Have you ever had the problem where you are making great strides and then all of sudden they grind to a halt like someone just pulled the parking brake on your expedition to more muscle and strength?
It is incredibly frustrating and it happens to many people, despite their best efforts. It has happened to me quite a few times in the past too.
Awhile back, my buddy Frankie called me up with a radical new concept. He stated that it is EXPECTED that we make PERPETUAL PROGRESS.
Yes, you read that right. Continual progress towards your physique and performance goals.
Sounds nutty doesn’t it?
I called BS on this right away. How is that possible? Instead of not taking any action, I thought I would test it out and prove him wrong (even though historically he was rarely wrong).
Are you stuck at a never ending plateau?
Have your lifts not gone up since Obama became president?
Since Hillary did not look like a wax caricature?
Palin said something intelligent? (ok that is a really long time)
Are you trying harder and harder only for little to no results and a visit from the pain monster?
Elbows creaky like the tin man?
I’ve been there too and it sucks large moose balls. Not any fun.
You try harder and harder, only to see very slow progress.
I found out that it is entirely possible to make measureable progress every time you set foot in the gym.
I am here to help you out with 3 key things that will make a massive difference.
Unfortunately these took me years to learn (read: steal from others, thanks Frankie) and I don’t want you to go through the same process (read: I am a nice guy).
3 Steps to Perpetual Progress for More Muscle, Strength and Less Fat
1) Test Your Movements
Everything you do is either making you better or worse
You get to decide which one.
Do more movements that make you better.
Pretty simple, eh?
You can determine if a movement is good for you by measuring your range of motion (ROM) before and after an exercise.
More ROM = good exercise (green light)
Less ROM = not so good exercise (red light)
You can use a toe touch, arm raise, any ROM can work.
Just stop at the first sign of any tension and measure the distance. Do an exercise and re-measure. It will either be a green or red light.
If you want a video that walks you through this process, go to this link below
“Video Training To Add Extreme Muscle & Strength” <–find out here
Go for the greens!
2) Stop Trying So Hard!
If it was only as easy as trying harder, you would not be stuck at a plateau and everyone in Planet Fitness across the world would be making scary progress.
I too was convinced that trying hard(er) was the key.
Heck, I paid several top coaches who confirmed this “fact”!
Very little difference in muscle, strength and more pain. A lot more pain actually.
At one point, washing my face in the sink was an exercise in mobility to get my feet far apart enough and to slowly lower my face to the sink without causing any low back pain.
I was up to over an hour of foam rolling, static stretching, dynamic mobility work and joint mobility just to start at a very low weight and go up to my working weight over 3-8 sets.
Yes, all of this BEFORE I really “started” to exercise.
My typical gym session was 2.5 hours.Eeeeek.
Finally I said enough was enough and opted to try a different path. I could no longer look at my results (or lack thereof) and justify it as “progress.”
At the time I was working with Z-Health and decided to try that approach full stop since I did not have anything to lose.
I remember sitting a dinner with Dr. Cobb of Z-Health and I asked him point blank “If you were me, and you know my issues, what would you do?”
His response was “fire your coach and try this!”
So, being the wise man that I was, I decided to do just that. The main thing I did differently in the gym was to stop all sets as soon as breathing or tension is increased.
At first this seemed really foreign. I FELT like I was not doing anything. It felt too easy.
But, I was determined to keep going forward and despite not pulling any heavy deadlifts, I added 25 pounds to my max deadlift in 5 months.
Previous to this, I was stuck at the same weight for well over a year, despite keeping it as my main goal!
Stop trying so hard and you will thank me later. Try has nothing to do with it. Test it.
3) Progressive Overload
Unfortunately, while I made great progress during that phase, I forgot to keep in overload! The only type of overload I was using consistently was intensity based—the heaviest weight I could lift for a single rep.
While this is good, we all know that you can’t add weight to the bar every session or every week forever. If we could, all of us would have bigger muscles within a very short period of time.
If we could also add strength just as fast there would be people pulling double to triple bodyweight deadlifts at every gym.
Heck, most gyms you can’t even find someone lifting anything off the ground, period. Oh, and Planet Fitness will kick you out for that too since, yikes, we don’t want people progress too fast and scare other members.
The key is PROGRESSIVE overload.
Progressive overload has 3 main components. Work to add :
1) More volume (weight x sets x reps)
2) Better density (volume / time)
3) More intensity (weight lifted)
This may not happen all in the same session, but EACH one of those is a form of overload.
Your body will respond to it.
As my buddy Frankie says “Adaptation has no off switch.”
The typical progression that I see for exercises and overload is
Volume, volume, volume, density, intensity.
You will probably be different, but that is a rough starting point.
Follow these 3 key factors and I can guarantee you will be adding more muscle and strengthin record time, all with less pain.
No more Tin man for you!
While this is not an exhaustive list, it is a great starting point; so time for action.
Mike T. Nelson