Most of my early physical education was self-directed and self-taught. Eventually, I hit a wall and stopped growing. Rather than keep repeating my patterns, I hired a qualified trainer to guide me. I treated it like a business consultancy. I still do and you can see it for yourself. All the skills I acquire will only serve me going forward.
Having training partners and coaches has advanced my game considerably. I still mess up but I have a second pair of eyes to help me out.
Here is a great article for men who want to re-think, a weightlifting a program. You don’t need to agree just get inspired. Understanding your goals is the first step to creating change.
By Daniel Duane
All good personal trainers design their programs around a few simple rules. Learn the following six fundamentals and you can safely and effectively create your own fitness program.
A great personal trainer can be invaluable: Plenty of us wouldn’t get to the gym without a guy there rooting for us, and we often depend on trainers to demonstrate good exercise form. The reality for most men, though, is that they can’t justify the expense or commit to showing up at a certain time and place several times a week. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get the same kind of workout: It’s easier than you might think to build your own professional training program. Although the lifting and running that a trainer puts you through may seem like a mysterious science, it’s not. In fact, most trainers stick to simple formulas to help you build strength and endurance. We tapped some of the best trainers in the country and researched the best fitness books you should have on your shelf to uncover the secrets to getting a proper workout — all by yourself.
Focus on Strength, Not Stamina
What all the best trainers know, and most laypeople don’t realize, is how important it is to build basic strength as the first part of a solid exercise program. To do this, the pros rely on fundamental exercises like squats and the bench press, using a simple formula well known to build pure strength: lifting heavy weights in multiple sets of five reps or fewer.
Mark Rippetoe’s well-respected fitness book Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training charts a proven, bare-bones approach for this early phase: simply alternating two basic workouts, three days a week. The first workout employs the squat, bench press, and dead lift; the second workout hits the squat, overhead press, and power clean. (You can find descriptions of all these exercises in Starting Strength.) With each exercise, you start light, warm up with progressively heavier weights, and then do three sets of five reps with the heaviest weight for that day. Your first bench press session, for example, might look like this:
For your next session, you’d simply add 10 to 20 pounds to your third, fourth, and fifth warm-up sets, and five to 20 pounds to your work sets (as you progress, the weight of your work sets will be much heavier than that of your warm-ups). While this is a great way to jumpstart your strength training, you wouldn’t want to do this forever: After two to six months (longer for some), you’ll have exhausted the novice effect, gains will stop, and it will be time for the more advanced program, as outlined below.
Set Goals Properly
Mark Verstegen, a trainer who has worked with pros such as the Tampa Bay Rays’s Carl Crawford, encourages setting “SMART goals: specific (without ambiguity), measurable (able to chart progress), achievable (within capability), relevant (should contribute to larger goals and objectives), time-based (not open-ended).” Equally important, Verstegen says, is to keep notes, making sure the program is working. “And when you do reach one of your goals,” he says, “take time to celebrate.”
Keep a Careful Schedule
One foundation of any program a trainer sets up for you is based on the idea that fitness gains come in response to stress: You stress the body, you rest while it adapts, and then you stress it again. But there’s a fine line between just enough stress and too much, beyond which lies the clinical condition known as overtraining, characterized by declining strength. That’s why the program above eventually stalls: the loads get so big that you can’t recover in time for the next session. That’s when it’s time for the next step, the so-called Texas Method that’s used by many trainers, with a high-volume Monday, a light Wednesday, and a try for a new personal record (PR) every Friday. Each exercise in the following template can be swapped regularly with one of its basic variants. The chart below, for instance, shows the bench press alternating with the overhead press, but you can find other options. You’ll be tempted to do other exercises, too, but you’ll see the most strength gains if you stick to the formula.
Tend to Your Core
In the context of functional athletic training, core does not mean crunches. It means strengthening the stabilizer muscles around your spine and your hip and shoulder joints. Everybody has hidden core weaknesses: glutes that don’t fire, setting us up for knee injuries or weak rotator cuffs that turn the bench press into a guaranteed shoulder-injury program, just to name a few. So if you’re going to add one layer of complexity to your strength program, make it a few simple core-stabilization exercises. For a complete rundown of all these exercises, be sure to read Core Performance by Mark Verstegen.
Don’t Run, Sprint
Numerous studies have shown that short, ferociously intense interval work leads to greater fat loss than long, slow cardio; they’ve also shown that it builds endurance equally well, and without destroying strength gains, which is a known side effect of longer low-intensity aerobic exercise. The all-time classic is the Tabata interval: eight rounds of 20 seconds of all-out work broken by 10-second rest intervals. Ideally, trainers like their clients to do two full Tabata cycles in a single workout, twice a week, in addition to strength training. This can be done on a bike, on a rowing machine, or by running sprints — but getting the maximum benefit out of interval training requires going full speed.
Skip the Machines
Gym owners like weight machines because they’re easy for their clientele to use — the problem is they work only a single muscle group at a time. Trainers know that functional strength comes from exercises that recruit multiple muscles, such as squats.