How to accelerate the progresses
If during my early times in this sport I would have had somebody who had helped me avoid the many mistakes I committed, or I would have had access to the truthful information channel about the complex world of muscular developing that exists today, I would have gone more far and also in half the time.
Developing muscles over the average is not an easy task and the success depends on many factors.
That is exactly why with experience many time can be saved and lots of mistakes can be avoided that won’t let you advance or will delay your development. But experience needs many years to be accumulated, so the best advice I can give you is to take advantage from the others’ experience, those who have gone the same way.
So following we have a list of mistakes that you should avoid and also advices of actions you better do if you want to achieve the utmost development that your genetic potential may allow you.
Use a strict technique
The strict form of doing the exercises has to be an unavoidable rule in your training, in my opinion the main one. Either you are or not a paragon of genetic virtues, you must always pay attention to technique, if you do not want to end full of injuries. Strive so that each repetition is performed in a meticulous way both the first as the last one of the set.
When you move weight you have to transform yourself into mechanically perfect machines. You will prevent from the risk of injury and stimulate the muscle much more.
Beware the overtraining
The excessive enthusiasm and the rush to grow can be the worst enemies of progress. If I learnt something over the years is that less is more. It took me a long time to discover and to prove it, but I am convinced that no one needs to train more than four days a week neither doing it on two following days without taking at least one day off.
When it is about growing, resting is essential or simply hypertrophy won’t be possible.
If you train really hard, and this is an obligatory rule, you have to leave some time so that the body recovers and it can complete the recovering and overcompensation tasks. Only this way you will advance.
Control the speed of the repetitions
If you want big muscles and to keep on training for many years, besides using a strict technique you should perform the repetitions at a low rhythm. If you are not powerlifters or weightlifters you should not train as if you were. Those athletes lift too much weight and of course they are impressive, but their muscles do not represent the size neither the quality required by bodybuilders.
Do not do explosive or ballistic movements as they do, because they are dangerous and involve forces like inertia to raise the load. Do it slowly and make sure is the muscle the one who moves the 100% of the load, which affects a greater extent on its development, while you eliminate any risk of injury.
Eat small amount of healthy foods every three hours along the day
It took me a long time to realize it is not the same to eat 5.000 daily calories in three meals, than doing it in six small times every three hours.
I also had to learn that my body do not processes in the same way 1.000 calories proceeding from greasy hamburgers than the ones from chicken breasts or boiled eggs.
Do not loose your time training hard at the gym and following the rules of this art if then you do not take the diet with the same rigor. Both things are an indivisible whole. If you are able to crush yourself at the gym but you are not strict when it is time to eat, you trainings will be useless.
I expected my permissions on diet would be compensated at the gym, but that never worked out. It is likely to happen all the way back and you can fix your lack of thoroughness with the irons by eating perfectly. But obviously, the ideal is to be rigorous in both factors.
Avoid certain unnatural exercises
Whatever it is said, bars and dumbbells are still the most natural ways to do exercises with additional loads, since they allow the body to adopt the most advantageous positions and angles for the articulations in all paths.
I could prove, throughout many years and with lot of people, that there are certain types of exercises that are not natural for most of us, such as: behind-nape presses, bench presses to neck, curved bar presses, straight legs deadlifts; and taken to full extension from a block, behind-nape dorsal pulls, hack squats, Smith machine squats or super wide-grip chin-ups.
For most of people these exercises are disastrous for their articulations because they force them to work in an unnatural plane.
Ego can be your worst enemy
A mistake we all have committed, especially on our youth, is wanting to impress the others for the load we can move. When we are led by our ego it is easy to end with an injury, besides losing the basic goal of the training which is the muscular stimulation.
Get used to impress the others with the enormous development of your muscles, not for the huge amounts of weight you can move in any way.
Leave your ego at the entrance of the gym or he will put you out of the gym.
Train hard within the limits of a bodybuilder
The sets of unique or double repetitions, as the powerlifters do, do nothing to increase the size of the muscle, since they do not offer enough nervous and blood stimulation. You need more than one, two or three repetitions per set if you are looking for muscular hypertrophy. Avoid doing sets of less than five repetitions, because that way muscles will not receive enough stimulation to trigger the hypertrophy.
Powerlifters are very strong athletes, but they do not have such big and dense muscles as bodybuilders do, simply because they do not do enough repetitions. Their aim is not the muscular development but getting lifting records. Therefore their way of training is not convenient for us.
Do not do more than two or thee sets per exercise
If, once the muscle is warmed up, you get to your working weight and you do your utmost in that productive set; how many do you think you will be able to do keeping that same intensity? In most cases only one, since in the following ones the tiredness will prevent you from equalling the same repetitions. It is possible you can repeat it with the same rigour a second time, and less likely a third one. Don’t do more.
If you have taken the most advantage from the movement and the muscle that it works, what sense does it continue plundering of energy? You will simply overtrain it. Warm up jut enough to reach the weight you should use at full blast to complete the scheduled repetitions: that is your productive set and the others will count as a preparatory to reach that point. Maybe that one is enough, or you could do one more. In any case, if you see you cannot equal the initial effort, leave it there.
If, on contrary, in that following one you can improve the previous, that means the first one was not your maximum but the one you just did.
You will not workout more than two groups in one session
Focus your efforts on a few basic exercises. If you do too many of them you won’t be able to keep up the physical and psychical intensity needed to get to the end of the session. You will be able to keep, in the best case, the concentration and strength to train hard a big group and a little one, but not more than that. In many occasions you will only be able to give your utmost in one unique group. Leave the other one for the next session.
Base your routine on basic exercises easy to perform
The best routines are the simpler ones. Do not make your life difficult with lots of exercises neither to do them complicated.
Focus on the basic and simple ones, those which are comfortable and where you can fully give yourself, because they will let you gain more than any others.
The key of the muscular stimulation lies on the heavy intense training and you can get it best with those natural movements that result satisfactory.
Keep a training diary
The key to grow is to constantly improve in the training, but how can we know that what we are doing today is an improvement regarding what we used to do six month or a year ago? Simple, you just have to look in your training diary.
I always refused to have one because I did not want to look like an idiot taking notes at the gym. However, I discovered that I could prepare my routine before going to the gym and then, after it was done, I just needed to write down the weights and repetitions I used on each set, something I could did in one minute at the dressing room.
Believe me; all that information is very valuable to reach conclusions at different stages.
Set long term goals, not short term
Do not let yourself lead by the temptation of willing to do too much in a short period of time. Every time I set for myself short term big challenges I ended frustrated, stagnant or, what is worse, injured.
Resist the temptation of getting too much too soon. Be patient and you will come to wherever you wish.
Use very small discs in your progresses
How can you expect to increase the weight each weak, an important factor to provoke the growth, if each time you add 2 kilos to the bar?
It seems too little to add 2 kilos to the bar, right?
However, adding just two kilos a week to the squats bar, the exercise that allows the most weight perhaps, implies increasing 104 kilos a year. 2 x 52 weeks= 104 kilos.
Do you think it is reasonable? Let’s say nowadays you move 100 kilos, next year will be 200, the next 300 and in five years will be 800. And not even the half, ie increasing one kilo a week, is reasonable, because there are certain movements in which the possible weight increasing is too little.
I know in most of the gyms there are no such small discs, but you should get familiar with the half kilo discs or do what I did, to build washers I could add to the bars to increase its weight in 100 or 200 grams.
If not, play with the repetitions; try to keep the same weight until increasing the repetitions three times before adding that extra kilo.
Do not train a muscle that still hurts
If you feel pain in a muscle it means it is not fully recovered. In fact, it may happen that the muscular pain is gone and even though it is not completely recovered. So as long as it hurts avoid training it because you will be preventing it from growing.
If you have doubts, then rest more, nor less. It is more productive to grow.
Use the whole path of the movement
Always use the maximum path of the movement which is comfortable to your body. Each exercise has a correct angle and all of us have different body levers. Try using the maximum path always within your personal limits.
Stretch the muscles but do not exaggerate
Stretching is an essential part of training. Stretching a muscle provides more flexibility and contraction possibilities to it. But each muscle has a limit. Do not excessively stretch it while warming it up neither training it because you can hurt it and you will get no advantage at all.
Use your instinct as a guide
If one day you feel powerful do not be afraid and give your utmost. If your instinct tells you to lift more than usual, and physically you feel indestructible, don’t be afraid of doing it.
If, on the other hand, in another occasion you feel heavy, with the articulations rigid, the lower back tense and the muscles cold, do not mind doing a few sets with lighter weights before heading the showers.
Your instinct will tell you when you can give more and when you can take it easy.
Base your nutrition on foods, not on supplements
Supplements are only that, a mean of complementing the diet, but do not base it on them. At least three quarters of your nutrition should come in solid form, not only because the digestive system needs it, but because there are still thousands of substances to discover in foods; and supplements are only based on those known nutrients. But what about the unknown nutrients that are surely vital?
Firmly work to design a balanced diet and only then you can add some supplement.