Monday, September 5, 2022

My Undeniable Truths of Weight Training for Beginners – Part 9 - Adopt a Label-Free Approach to Training – By RJ Hicks, MS, CSCS

I know a lot of coaches that like to label their training as the most effective or efficient way. They take a one size fits all approach to strength training no matter the clients experience, preference or goal. Their training philosophy becomes the very methods and modes they have chosen. This can be confusing for beginners and enough pressure to make them feel the need to choose a specific camp. If you want to maximize your muscular size and strength ignore these coaches and ditch the dogmatic mentality in your training.

There is no one best way to train for every individual. Many coaches rather cramp their style of training down your throat then to take the time to understand your goals. I see it all the time where a coach says we do barbell training or HIT training or Olympic lifting at this gym. They try to fit the client to the methods rather than the methods to the client goals and interest. It is a backwards approach to training that limits the physical potential a client reaches since no one method will work for each individual.

When you label yourself in training you handicap yourself from progressing in the long term. Injury, burn-out, mental blocks are all real factors when it comes to training. It has nothing to do with a lack of knowledge or motivation as to why you cannot train in one particular method for the rest of your life. You do not have to swear allegiance to anyone camp to be a serious lifter. It is better to have the freedom to adjust your training as you see fit for the specific goal. it is not the tool, exercise or rep scheme that determines your success; it is your attitude and effort towards lifting greater resistance on the basic exercises that does this.

Do not label yourself. When you become a disciple of any one of the many camps in the field of strength you close the door to many other good training methods. Strength training is not an either-or conflict. Take the good parts of each training camp and discard the bad from your training. Your own instincts, knowledge and experience has to override what any one camp may say. You do not want to be bound by one individual camp and their training methods. Instead, you want a large tool box of methods so that you have the opportunity to choose the right tool for the right job.

Be a label-free zone like is not a HIT, DINO, Super Slow, Hard Gainer, NSCA, BFS or Starting Strength site. All training philosophies and methods of training are welcome as long as they are drug-free and productive. The site promotes the best of each training method and highlights the commonalities between the groups. It’s the basic principles that they share that makes the training successful, not the differences.

Successful drug-free lifters all utilize he same basic principles. They train their whole body with the basic compound exercises. They ensure to place equal emphasis on pushing and pulling for both the upper and lower body. They also train hard, prioritize load progression and always plan for enough recovery between workouts. How they incorporate the specific modes and methods into their training is of minor importance and based on the individual. Jim Duggan, Linda Jo Belisto, Bob Whelan and Jamie LaBelle’s are just a few examples of successful lifters who demonstrate different variations on how they apply the same basic principles to their training, based off of their goals and enjoyment.

You can train in a pyramid set fashion, straight sets, super sets or one set per exercise. You can train to failure or just shy of complete muscular fatigue. You can use train with high repetitions or low repetitions, with good machines or free weights with great success. There is no one rep/set scheme or rest interval that is always the right choice. What matter is if you train hard and progressively and specific to your goal and interest.

You should be able to enjoy your training and not feel confined to only one method of training. I know guys who miss training with heavy weights and using a mix of free weights and machines, but refuse to switch up their training because they label themselves Super Slow. The tools and methods you decide to use has nothing to do with the foundation of strength training. As long as you train the whole body hard with equal emphasis on pushing and pulling, with poundage progression as the main goal you can make many methods work! It is good for both your body and your mind to switch your training up and set new goals.

Make a strategic change every four to five months based off your goals. Alternate the rep ranges you are using for your exercise every few months. Don’t be afraid to experiment with higher reps for a period of time and then with lower reps. If you are always training on machines and want to train on free weights, switch up your tools for four months. Train in a high intensity format for several weeks if you’re an in-season athlete and time is tight. Then, if in the off-season you want to see how strong you can get take the next few months to train with straight sets and a lot of rest to see how much you can increase your poundage’s. Listen to how your body feels and chase after goals that will keep your motivation high. You will become much bigger and stronger this way rather than if you settle for a dogmatic approach.

Brooks Kubik said it best in Dinosaur Training, “The common denominator for all guys who are serious about their training is very simple: THEY TRAIN HARD! They may use different equipment, do different exercise, use different set/rep schemes and so on, but the bottom line is always the same: HARD Work!” Skip the internet wars and go out there and find the training approaches that excites you the most. If anyone asks you which camp you belong to, respond with the “Hard, progressive, drug-free training camp”.
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:

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