Join Date: Oct 2002
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Progression...and how to get it!
I read this on an Asutralian BB site...is an excellent article, longish, so please take the time to read on.
Amongst all the variables that constitute an effective size and strength routine, what is the most important aspect of them all? Progression. Because no matter what combination of exercises, sets, reps, or frequency you are presently using, if you arenít witnessing regular and consistent progress then all these variables wonít help you achieve your goal.
Unfortunately, for a lot of trainees, this is an all to familiar scenario; same weights, same body! But it doesnít have to be that way if you just apply a little logic when designing your routine. That means starting with the best tools for the job; the basics. These time proven movements will do more to alter the way you presently look than all the isolation exercises combined. Out of literally thousands of exercises to select from, there are only five that deserve attention, the ones that involve the heaviest poundages, the highest effort, deepest discomfort, and the quickest results.
The honoured fivesome are; squats, deadlifts, bench press, pull-ups, and bb presses. These should always be mainstays in any routine aimed at large size and strength increases, whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced. There worth can be equated in the way they upset the bodyís homeostasis, a basic requirement to grow larger muscles. Without a strong signal inflicted on your system, you body is happy to remain the way it is, and no amount of additional exercise will do the job like these brutes can!
Now we know the right tools, how do we apply them so as to maximise their effectiveness? Keeping in mind that the human body either performs all out for short periods of time, or at a steady pace for lengthy periods, the choice is clear when we are talking size and strength increases; very briefly. Watered down with additional work than the minimum necessary will mean a drastic drop in the amount of output a trainee delivers, equalling reduced results. So our goal is to train briefly, but at a high level of effort [or intensity].
Properly applied, this small amount of exercise takes a toll on the body, that then needs time before completing its job of rejuvenating the body, and more importantly, allowing additional overcompensation in the form of growth. This is solely a time dependent process, and canít be rushed no matter how badly a trainee wants growth. Being an individual factor, the best thing a trainee could do so that he / she is assured that they are training at a frequency right for their unique body is to listen to what your body tells them. This means waiting till all soreness has subsided, then allowing additional days for growth.
This is where most trainees go horribly wrong. In their haste to grow as fast as possible they ironically short circuit the very same process that provides them with the size and strength they seek. Instead of allowing time for the effects they train so hard for to occur they are in the gym again slowing the rate of progress at best, and ending all progression at worst. If only trainees would learn to restrain themselves, there would be a much higher progress rate.
A trainee can determine whether they are using the right frequency based upon their present progress, or lack there of. If you are able to do 1 or more new reps this workout than you could do last time, then all is well. Or if you are able to add 1 or more pounds to each exercise you are on the right path. Itís the accumulation of all these small advancements that add up to some serious size and strength gains, so even though these might seem minor at present, donít overlook there importance in the long run.
If you are serious about your efforts to get larger and stronger muscles then look no further than applying yourself to a handful of basics on a frequency that allows regular and consistent progress. There is no other way to ensure that the time you spend in the gym is truly constructive to achieve your goals. We all have off days, so donít fret if there are times where progress doesnít occur every single workout, but if you are rested and recuperated there is no real reason why it shouldnít!
In the real world, maybe every second workout may be a more realistic goal for some, but that isnít an excuse to apply yourself half-heartedly every other workout, itís just a guideline so disappointment doesnít dampen your efforts. Try your best to add something to your next workout, as even one new rep means that you have added something that your body has never done before, and spells progression in some small but significant way.
Always strive to do the minimum so you can recuperate the at the fastest rate. One set taken till failure is perfect. That means real effort, not the pseudo effort that involves excessive screaming or dramatics, as besides drama school that will get you nowhere fast. We are talking honest labour, each rep as strict and perfect as the last, especially when you tire and the effort increases. That kind of work ethic will reap you far greater rewards than all the half hearted sets in the world. Combined with the right frequency, traineeís will witness results at a rate in accordance with their genetic endowment.
So before you next step in the gym, stop to determine whether you are truly ready to inflict further punishment on a body already trying to recover from the last workout. That means 100% recuperation, never 99 or 98, and if in doubt, rest two or three days more just to be on the safe side. Overtraining is the build up of residue from too many workouts, over too short a time span, donít fall into a trap that decreases progress, instead aim to do all you can to progress as best as possible. After all rest is the easy part, itís the lifting of all those weights that is the tough part, so rest and see how progress improves?