The best bodies in the world were built with these basics.
There are multiple ways to go about achieving the same shredded look with resistance training. There is already too much training information available on the internet. My goal is not to add to it, but to simplify it. The topic is too vast and varied to cohesively guide on everything without confusing and paralysing people with information. It’s simply not necessary either.
We will focus on a training style with a bias towards progressive strength gains in the main compound movements. I believe this is the fastest way to get strong, fit, and change your physique with the least risk of spinning your wheels (i.e. effort without results).
I don’t want you to waste years of your life, as I did, before finding what really works.
You can achieve amazing change by training just 3 days a week for an hour.
If you are new to training, you’re in luck. This will be the best training year of your life, and is your opportunity to make the most dramatic changes to your body. You will have ‘beginner bonus gains’ as I like to call them. Do not waste this opportunity, and do not suffer fools that try to steer you off the path toward ineffective routines.
If you have been training a while and haven’t seen the progress you thought you would, a renewed focus on the basics will benefit you greatly also. It’s not too late to start now, but it would be a waste to continue something and expect a different result.
1. Progressive Overload Must Occur
An effective training routine must follow The Principle of Progressive Overload. This means it must allow for you to consistently add reps, or weight to the bar over time to drive physical adaptation and change.
Barbells exercises are best I feel: They are one of the easiest tools for allowing incremental loading, they are toughest to cheat on, and the easiest to gauge your progress with.
2. Volume and Frequency Needs Be Appropriate for Your Training Level
A beginner needs less overall training volume to bring about change than an advanced lifter. Do the minimum you can to keep progressing at a sustainable rate. The pros train 5+ days a week because they have built up the workout tolerance for it, and also because they need it to still make gains. (You’ll also see skinny guys down the gym copying them without knowing any better. Focus on your own training, not others.)
<—- Beginner — Intermediate — Advanced —->
Cutting: 3 days — 3 days — 3-4 days
Bulking: 3 days — 3-4 days — 4-6 days
Most trainees are not nearly as ‘advanced’ as they think. Check your ego at the door. Do not jump to something you perceive to be more ‘advanced’ – you’ll simply make slower progress. Simple training routines focused on barbels do not make for a sexy article in a magazine which is why you don’t generally see them in there.
3. You Must Always Strive To Use Good Form
If you do not use correct form you will not only sacrifice your gains, but set yourself up for injury somewhere in the not-too-distant future. Training with good form is critically important. I recommend you to:
- Read Mark Rippetoe’s ‘Starting Strength – 3rd Edition‘. He’s considered one of the best. It is the best ‘how-to’ guide to performing barbel exercises I have ever read.
- Watch his Youtube video lectures. Video yourself and check your form my comparing.
- Invest in a good personal trainer to check your form. (Easier said than done, 99% of the staff in commercial gyms will be clueless, hence this comes in third. For most people self-teaching is the only viable option.)
Making a small investment now will pay big dividends in the future. The mindset, “I’m going to practice these barbell lifts” rather than, “I’m going to crust a huge weight!” when you walk into the gym each day is an important one, especially when you’re starting out.
Form is something that you will work on for months and even years. So don’t get an ego about it, stay humble, have the mindset of practice, and you can’t help but get stronger and grow.
4. Adequate Recovery Is As Important As The Training Itself
Training provides the stimulus and stress telling your body to adapt. Recovery allows the adaptations to take place. This means:
- Getting sufficient sleep
- Minimizing stress in the other areas of your life
- Giving your body the food it needs
Don’t neglect any of these areas or it will hold you back.
Choosing The Right Routine
Don’t worry, I have you covered here too. First though two things I’d like to make clear:
- The most important thing for the beginner trainee is that you get on a good strength training program then stick to it. There’s not really any point in you arguing the minor differences between good, tried and proven strength routines. Nor do you really have a base from which to judge them independently. Just start something.
- The most important thing for the intermediate and advanced trainee becomes not what program you follow (for you must have followed a good one or you wouldn’t be intermediate or advanced), but how you tweak it to follow the principle of progressive overload so that you keep advancing with your training.
All good? Excellent. Let’s move onwards then on choosing the right routine for yourself.
Next: Which Routine Is For Me? →