Friday, October 11, 2019

The "Proper" Way To Train - By Jim Duggan

     There is a world of difference between training properly, and just working out.  Training properly will allow you to achieve your maximum potential in terms of Strength and Health.   And, make no mistake, maximum strength and optimum good health should be the goals of every person who lifts weights.  Of course,  "Strength and Health," was also the name of one of the great magazines devoted to strength training, which is no coincidence.

     Naturally,  not all trainees will have the same training goals. However, whether your goal is to gain muscular size and strength, lose excess bodyweight and become leaner, or if you're lifting weights as part of a strength training program for another sport, you will want to be able to fulfill your potential. Nobody playing with a full deck wants to just "go through the motions." There are several basic principles that apply to everyone who lifts weights.

     1) Progression.  Progression is the key to getting bigger, and stronger.  The whole idea of "progressive resistance" rests on this principle.  The goal of any strength training program is to increase the number of repetitions, or the amount of weight used, in each workout.  If you are performing the same number of reps, with the same poundage, every workout, then you are NOT training progressively.  Naturally, if you want to make progress, you will have to work hard.  Nobody ever said it would be easy.  I remember a quote from a former weightlifting champion: "It takes a very brave man to lift heavy weights."  Pushing the poundages does, indeed, takes guts. But it will be worthwhile.

      2) Proper Form.  Using proper form in all of your exercises will go a long way in keeping you from getting injured.  Of course, injuries can be caused by other things besides poor form: insufficient warm-up, over-exertion, fatigue. Likewise, I'm not saying that using proper form will prevent you from ever becoming injured, but it will make an injury less likely to happen.  Another benefit of using proper form is that it will help develop the muscles being trained.  For example, if you are doing a standing barbell curl, it makes absolutely no sense to cheat by utilizing excessive swinging. Yes, you may use more weight, but you will not derive the benefits of the exercise.  Likewise,  if you are Squatting, all of your reps should be done to proper depth, especially if you are a competitive powerlifter.  And if you are Deadlifting,  and it seems today like everyone has jumped on the Deadlift bandwagon, do NOT bounce the bar off the floor between each rep, but rather start from a complete stop.  And don't even think about doing a Bench Press without a pause between each and every rep.  Here's a hint: If you are training for a contest, perform every rep as if you are being judged by the strictest referee in the history of the sport.  This will guarantee that you will never bomb out of a meet.  And it will build greater strength.  Greater Strength!

     3) Adequate Rest/Recuperation.  If you are training hard, then it only stands to reason that you must allow your body time to recuperate from your workouts.  You can't do justice to your training if you don't recover from one workout to the next.  At some point, you will pay the price in the form of overtraining and/or injury.  You can't expect to make continuous gains if you don't get adequate rest between workouts.  This is especially important for the drug-free trainee.  That  is why it is foolish - and potentially dangerous- to follow the routines of steroid-bloated, so-called "champions."  As natural strength-athletes, we only have so much training energy to expend.  And don't be foolish enough to fall into the trap of "body part training."  The silly idea of training arms on one day, legs the next, etc.. The old "split routine" that was propagated by the old muscle magazines. Leave this type of foolishness to the pumpers, and toners.  Use common sense, and devote yourself to two or three full-body workouts per week, with an emphasis on the basics.

     And while I'm on the subject of the basics, remember that is is the basics that have built such legendary figures as John Grimek, Norbert Schemansky, and Bruno Sammartino.  If your goal is to do pumping movements, you can't reasonably expect to develop an  appreciable amount of strength.  Pumped up bodybuilders usually lose their "size" once they stop training.  Mere size should not be an end in itself, but, rather the combination of size and strength should be the goal of all trainees who are just starting out.

     4) Make Every Workout Count.  When you go to the gym, be ready to train hard.  Try to eliminate any and all distractions.  This means NO cell phones.  You do not need a phone while lifting weights.  I realize that this is not a popular sentiment, especially in today's world, but let's be brutally honest:  How is a cell phone going to help you train harder? Leave the phone, and its inherent distractions, to the toner crowd.  You'll make better progress.  But aside from  cell phones, your workout should be a time to train, not to engage in lengthy conversations, or waste time.

     While there have been many books, and articles devoted to the concept of "proper training," the four which I have described above will build a solid foundation, and establish healthy training habits.  And good training habits will lead to more successful workouts, not just for today, but for years to come.
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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