A lot of people go to the gym, but very few people train.
These days gyms are full of people chatting it up, checking their cell phones, watching TV and doing just about everything but training. Why? Well, in my opinion, they don’t have a reason (purpose), fueled by emotion, that drives them to work hard. If this is new to you, then you should review our previous article about developing Mental Momentum.
Once you know ‘Who you are’ and ‘why you’re at the gym’, the next step is to figure out what to do, right?
What workouts should you do to help you reach your goals?
There’s a lot of info out there these days, including bodybuilding mags, workout of the day, DVDs and more… but lets not get distracted by all the options. Exercise can be boiled down into 7 basic movements. It doesn’t matter if you are an elite cage fighter or an overweight bar fly. People move, period.
7 Basic Human Movements
Download 7 Basic Movements PDF now!
That’s it. 7 simple movements that we all do. Pretty simple, right? Make sure that your exercise program includes these simple movements and you will be doing better than 90% of the people at your local gym.
You wouldn’t have your grandma try a clean and jerk, right?
Most people sit all day and haven’t trained in years (Remember, going to the gym is NOT training ), so they are probably going to have a few imbalances and weaknesses that need to be addressed. The couch, the car and the computer have created tightness and weakness throughout your body that will throw off you ability to move efficiently. Properly assessing movement patterns is vital at the beginning of any training program.
If you can’t do a perfect body weight squat, then you have no business putting a bar on your back. Its easy to get caught up in adrenaline packed, high intensity workouts, but if you don’t take the time to build a foundation your performance and health will suffer.
I’d prefer people start by proving they can hold a movement. For example, hold a squat position for 1 minute with perfect form. Once you can properly hold that position, then progress into moving through the full range of motion for that movement. Once you have mastered the movement, then you can speed up the movement and/or add resistance.
Key point: As you progress through each phase of movement, you will hit a ceiling where you are unable to perform the exercise properly. Maybe you can’t maintain posture or you shift to one side. These are weaknesses and/or an imbalance that needs to be addressed. I could go into a lot of detail here, but I will save it for another day.
There are lots of things to watch out for and that’s why it is so important to have a coach or educated friend that can evaluate you as you move. We are always correcting each other at our gym, because as you are working out, it is difficult to watch yourself.
A few tips to turbo charge your workouts
1. Have a plan of attack – walk into the gym, knowing what you are there to do. Mindlessly going through the motions is was te of time and energy. It’s always easy to spot the guy who is making progress in the gym. They usually have their program written down, they aren’t chatting or starring at their phone and they are focused on their workout. Get a plan and attack that plan with enthusiasm. A few weeks of focused effort and you will blow past everyone at your local gym.
2. Mix it up – Don’t get married to one piece of equipment or a routine. We are creatures of habit and it’s easy to get caught up doing the same stuff every week. Learning to mix up your workouts are vital for avoiding injury and continuing to make progress over time. Changing resistance source (dumbells, kettlebells, ropes, sandbags, bands, balls, etc), varying the intensity (high, medium and low), increasing or decreasing rest time, duration or workouts, going to a new gym, going outside are all ideas of ways to change up your workouts. The options are only limited by your creativity.
3. Work the entire chain – You are only as strong as your weakest link. Because of our sedentary lifestyles, imbalances and weakness occurs in all of us. For example, most people glutes (butt) do not work properly. It is the largest muscle in our body and if it doesn’t function properly, your strength and movement will suffer. If you (your coach) observes a glitch in your movement, then its time to figure out the cause and fix it. A lack of stability, mobility and muscle weakness are common causes.
Varying your workouts and using unconventional resistance like ropes, fat handles, bands, barefoot shoes, compound lifts, sandbags, Bulgarian bags and more, will challenge your body from your finger tips to your toes. We constantly have guys that visit our gym, who workout 5 days a week, but can’t hardly 15 minutes in our gym. Why? Because they need to address weaknesses in their body. They may be really strong at dumbbell bench press, but they are unable to bear crawl properly for 100 feet.
So, if you are just starting an exercise plan or if you are looking to increase your performance, get back to the basics. For some of you, it may just mean to start moving. A simple walk or light body weight routine will be a great start. For others, it may be a complete overhaul of the routine you’ve been doing for the past 5 years. Either way, start basic, assess along the way and focus on taking baby steps towrds your goal. Small progress every week turns into dramatic results over the next few months.
Next up: Learning to recover from your toughest workouts!
- Avoid common aches and pains
- Reduce muscle soreness
- Increase your energy
- Avoid over training and burn out!
Stay tuned…and be sure to leave comments below!