Nothing hurts my heart more than seeing a trainee make absolutely ZERO progress in the gym.
When you see someone and their physique looks the exact same month after month or when you see someone and their training numbers are the same year after year.
This is a very disturbing trend in the game today. Who can possibly be satisfied with going nowhere fast? There is a way however to ensure that this does not happen to you.
There are 3 keys that are critical to making progress in the gym. They are:
1) Adding Weight To The Bar
Your muscles are not going to get bigger if you are not making an effort to get stronger. Getting strong is the name of the game hence the name strength training.
Progressive overload is one of the oldest principles in the iron game in terms of how to build muscle. But progressive overload is also frequently ignored.
As you get stronger the weights will undoubtedly get heavier. When you are avoiding heavy weights out of fear then you need to evaluate yourself. Giving into fear is no way to live life.
I’m not talking about maxing out every time you touch the bar.
Nor am I talking about using a weight that you cannot handle that promotes horrendous form.
I am talking about adding small amounts of weight to the bar over time.
There is no value in you performing sets of 5 reps with a weight that you can perform for 20 reps.
That is taking the easy way out and your weak physique will show that.
Many folks do not lift heavy because they read an article that heavy deadlifts can lead to injury.
Look stepping out of the shower can result in injury.
So can walking down the street.
Or going down the steps.
As long as you are lifting with proper and safe form, your risk of injury will be minimal.
It is when your form is sloppy, or your mobility is bad, or the weights are too heavy is when an injury is more likely to occur.
Too heavy would be when you can barely do 1-2 reps with decent form. I have seen it in gyms during my whole career, and it never ends well.
If you are squatting 225lbs x 5 today and then next year you can still only squat 225lbs x 5 then you have attained no strength.
There is no reason for your legs to look bigger or stronger when no progression has occurred.
Your gains in strength are not unlimited, but it takes many, many years of training to know what your limits are. If you want to maximize your physique, spend time getting stronger.
2) Performing More Repetitions at a Given or Heavier Weight
Strength is extremely important. Without getting stronger, you cannot perform more reps with a given weight.
Let’s say Donna Derrière is performing the barbell hip thrust and is stuck at 275lbs x 5. Donna has been trying for months to increase that number, but it will not budge despite her efforts.
Donna then begins to focus on increasing her absolute strength. Her max lift grows from 315lbs to 375lbs.
When she goes back to 275lbs in the hip thrust she can now perform 10 reps. She also notices that her glutes are looking much higher, fuller, and tighter. Why?
Because she is performing more reps with 275lbs!
Donna increased her absolute strength which led to the given weight of 275lbs feeling lighter than normal.
When you can perform more reps with more weight your muscles are going to become bigger.
225lbs x 3 turns into 225lbs x 6.
Then 225lbs x 6 turns into 225lbs x 9.
After that 225lbs x 9 turns into 225lbs x 12.
And then 225lbs turns into 230lbs or 235lbs, and you keep moving up the progression ladder.
Do not get complacent with performing the same amount of reps with the same weight every time.
Your body will also get complacent and what you see in the mirror will always be the same, non-progressing physique.
3) Perform More Work in Less Time
The greatest bodybuilding coach of all time Vince Gironda was big on doing more training in less time. His 8×8 training scheme is all about it!
Improving your training density or the amount of work you do in a given time will have a major impact on your strength, muscle mass, and more importantly your conditioning. How does density work?
Let’s say you are performing 7 x 3 with dips and chin-ups.
In the first week of performing the workout, it takes you 20 minutes and on the second week it takes you 18 minutes.
In the third week of the workout it only takes you 16 minutes, and you have become more conditioned with each passing week.
Training at a faster pace is very uncomfortable for your body.
It can become brutally hard and sometimes unbearable. Your heart begins to thump faster and your muscles begin to sear since you are lowering the amount of rest.
You will find out exactly what type of character and resolve you have when you improve your training density.
But remember, being uncomfortable is what you need to make big-time changes with your physique. If it was easy to get fit and get into great shape then everyone would do it.
I want you to put a timer on your next workout. The next time you do that workout I want you to perform at a faster pace.
When you are going against the clock it will raise your sense of urgency.
Although bad workouts happen as a natural part of training hard, it never feels good to have a workout where your performance is worse than it was previously.
Don’t let your performance dip because you have been dogging it like certain pro athletes AFTER they sign the big-money deal.
The 3 keys to build muscle in the gym have been used by many champions and successful lifters for decades.
Focus on adding weight to the bar, performing more reps with heavier weights, and doing more work in less time.
By using these 3 keys to build muscle, you will unlock the door to the incredible physique that you want to build.
I’ll holla at you next time.
The People’s Trainer,