Tuesday, May 15, 2012

So what is Best? - By Jim Bryan

Let me start off by saying that I’m not a Scientist or Researcher. I don’t claim to have a research lab that turn’s out to be a closet in my home. I’m a Coach or Strength Trainer that has been active in the field for over forty years. I’ve had the good fortune to know some of the best Scientists, Researchers, Coaches, and Trainers in the Strength World. I've trained with them and been trained by them. Because of my involvement I'm asked on a continuous basis what I think is the best way to results. I competed as an Olympic lifter, Power Lifter, and Body Builder. I’m going to be honest but not too concerned about being P.C.


What are they? Are you an athlete wanting to get stronger? If so you probably don't have much time to spend on the Strength Training, most of your time will be devoted to skill training. You can still strength train and build muscle. Look for time efficient ways to do it. Are you interested in Body Building? If so you are probably willing to invest more time in your training. It still doesn't have to take up your life. AND you don't need to work every little muscle in your body. Stick with the major muscle groups until you start seeing muscle. Then work them harder! Notice I didn't say more, I said HARDER. Are you interested in Olympic Lifting or Power lifting? GET A COACH! Don't rely on Mr. Gym Stud, find a real Coach. AND don’t rely on Internet geeks either.

Free Weights and Machines

Unless you're a beginner or in denial you know that you can build strength and muscle on both. I've heard over and over that if you want to be “toned” use machines, but if you want to really “build up” use free weights. Whoever tells you that has issues and is not looking out for you. For Olympic Lifting and Power lifting you need to gain experience and the feel of an Olympic set. That is what you will be using to compete with. Practice, practice, practice. If you're a Football, Soccer, Volley Ball, Basketball, Baseball player or any other athlete involved in Strength Training you can use either or a combination of both. No one can tell me that he or she can look at how any team or individual plays and be able to know what they use. This also applies to Mr. / Ms. Fitness or Mr. / Ms. Home Gym. Free weights are cheaper to buy but have safety issues. Unless you have a spotter you better have a power rack. I wouldn't have a free weight home gym without a rack. Then you can train very hard without the worry of being crushed. Machines carry a much higher price tag but allow you to train safely by yourself and sometimes allow you to be able to do things that are impossible with free weights. If you have the interest, build up a gym with both, as well as some odd implements such as a sled or Farmers Handles. You can make them or buy them.

Full Body or Split Routine

I feel that a full body routine is more efficient. If you are doing a Full Body you don't have to go to the gym as much. I think Split Routines are okay now and then. I just don't like them over the long haul. The real key is PROGRESSION. Always try to add weight when you can or do more reps. Staying with the same weight over and over again is a waste of your time in the gym. Make the best use of your training time.

Rep Ranges

I like to vary my reps from low to higher. I'm also in favor of changing my exercise choice every 6-8 weeks. Low reps for me is 5. High reps would be over 20. It stands to reason you will be using heavier weights on the low reps and lighter weights on the high reps. But I don't believe in using weights so light that you can do the exercise without much effort. Effort is the name of the game. After all it is called Weight Training. And don't let anyone tell you that you can’t get stronger using higher reps.

Men and Women

Train the same. They both have Human muscles. Neither will have to worry much about becoming “too muscular” It's just not that easy, even with drugs. Women have much to be gained by working out with weights.

Size and Muscularity

It's been my experience that the ones that eat less are usually the most “defined” and the ones that eat the most are “bigger.” I usually ate the most so I struggled with being lean, I still do. Rep ranges usually don't count for much here, no matter what “gym stud” or “Internet Expert” told you.

Number of Sets

I use from 1 to 3 sets of a particular exercise. If I use more than one exercise per body part I use fewer sets. Most of the time I'm between 1 and 2 sets. The harder the sets, the fewer you'll need. Your not trying to see how much exercise you can tolerate (or shouldn't be) your trying to get the most efficient training you can. If you are really training hard with little rest (metabolic training) you won’t need many sets. Anyone that tells you that you won't build strength and muscle this way, doesn’t get out much. Yes, if you sit around on your ass and rest you'll be able to do many more sets. I guess if you have the time and want to spend it that way, go for it. Just don't tell me how hard you train.

Infrequent Training

Don't get carried away with this. I feel that Arthur Jones was just saying don't train every day or multiple days in a row. I don't believe he meant to only train once a month. Or one body part a month. Use your head. That is too frickin infrequent! I use two or three full body workouts a week. If three wears you out, then do two. You don't need to consult with the latest “hot ticket” Guru for his or her “secrets.” There aren't any. Hard work, done safely, on a regular basis is what you need. Keep it simple.


Don't look for supplements to fix your diet. If your diet is in the toilet it won't matter what the clerk from “Vitamin Heaven” sold you. “Fat Burners” Do you really believe that a pill will take that blubber off your waist? If you do, bend over and let me kick you in the ass! There are no Magic Pills! Hard work *done safely* on a regular basis. That is your Magic Supplement. AND eating real food. I do believe in using a multiple vitamin. Add a Protein powder if you want. Creatine? Eat a steak.

Training to Failure

I happen to believe that it can be a good thing. I won’t argue about it though. I feel that training that hard has to be learned. Yes, it is very hard. It is SUPPOSED to be. Does it make you tired? THEN REST! Bear with me folks it ain't that hard to grasp!

Personal Trainers

I would like to say that they are all good. I'd also like to say that I'm a millionaire. Truth is many are not worth a flip. I don't care who certified them. They get their knowledge from the latest “Drug Bloat Journal.” Or from that Science Lab in a closet. DO YOU REALLY think that Mr. America wrote that article? Some are good though, and if you find one, they can help you set up a routine and help you get over being intimidated in the gym. Don't worry ladies! You aren't the only ones that are intimidated when you first go to the gym.

Rep Speed

I don't count rep speed. I do expect full range reps done with control. If your slinging the weights around or the weight stack on a machine is banging, you should know better. If you've been told and you still do it, then you're a dumb ass.


I believe in doing Cardio. I just don't believe in pounding over and over on a stepper or treadmill. I get as much cardio as I can from my workouts. Most of my weight training is at a fast pace, not much rest. The Heart rate stays up and I'm breathing hard. I also walk a lot, usually 3 miles with my dog in the morning. I also pull a sled in the back yard. I've started hanging up my heavy bag again and as soon as my knee quiets down I'll be jumping rope again. These are all done when I feel like it. I don't run anymore, over 30 years of pounding the roads has got the best of my knees. I like getting outside for my Cardio. I'm not much on Aerobics but I sure like watching the girls do it. Guys if your going to join in Aerobic classes wear something that doesn't make you look like a sissy. I hate seeing guys wearing spandex.

The one best way to train

I don't think there is one. There are many methods and as long as they use progressively heavier weights most will work. Safety is a big thing for me. I like the way many Power Lifters train. They focus on what works and don't waste a lot of time. They also don't try to train every little tiny muscle in their body. Squats, some type of press, and dead lifts can turn a boy into a man. Add pull ups too. They can also give a woman a “Hard” body, and a hard woman is good to find! Increase your strength, better your conditioning and you'll be glad you did.


PLEASE guys, WORK YOUR LEGS! Nothing funnier in the gym than a guy walking around with his chest puffed out, arms held out away from the body, back all stiff, and flamingo legs. I expect bird sounds when I see them.

Bryan Strength & Conditioning "The Strength Department"

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Does modern bodybuilding make you sick? You should write for Natural Strength! I always need good articles about drug-free weight training. It only has to be at least a page and nothing fancy. Just write it strong and truthful with passion! Send your articles directly to me: bobwhelan@naturalstrength.com

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