04 Sep Part 3 | 6 Key Principles To Build Lean Muscle, Improve Performance & Develop sustainable results
#3 - Proper Progression
I learned this principle in college from my first mentor in the fitness industry, Tim Vagen. When Tim taught me about proper progression I knew it was going to stick for the rest of my life. It’s such a simple concept that is ignored by the vast majority of coaches in the industry.
As coaches, we constantly interact with clients who want to get crushed in their workouts and because they are paying customers, we tend to throw all caution to the wind and grant them their wish.
Tim also taught me “anybody can make you tired, but a coach makes you better.”
There is no requirement to put “Personal Trainer” in your IG bio. If you continue to do your favorite IG influencer’s workouts in a perpetual state of soreness, it may be time to look elsewhere.
The human body is an amazing piece of technology. We are constantly adapting to our environment as well as the demand we put on our body.
Think of your body like a plant. Give it too much or too little water and the plant will die. Give it the right amount of water consistently and the plant will thrive. Just like the demands of different plants vary, so does the demands of human beings. Just because your best friend trains at a certain level of intensity, doesn’t mean you need to adopt that intensity right away.
Identify where you are currently and train accordingly.
Consider a coach that will take the time to assess your movement capabilities, your goals, your current lifestyle as well as your health and medical history so you can get a individualized system fit specifically for you.
Training isn’t a trend, it is indeed a lifestyle. Starting at square one and progressing over time to get to square ten is far more beneficial than starting at square 5, getting hurt and trying to start at square 5 over and over again.
Sustainable results doesn’t mean being jacked for 1 year, 2 years or even 5 years – It means being healthy (whatever that means for you), acquiring a combination of strength, joint health, development of energy systems that lead to a healthy state of cardiovascular health, resulting in adequate performance and efficiency, over a lifetime.
Of course, things change. As we age, Type II or Fast Twitch muscle fibers deteriorate and we have a higher risk of falling and breaking bones and joint health takes a hit.
This doesn’t mean that if you’re older, you shouldn’t start training. The opposite actually. It’s never too late to start. In fact, you will no doubt improve your overall health and become more resilient to injury.
If you’re younger and you think you’re invincible like I once did as a young athlete, start training as if you’re 40.
What does that look like?
1 – A Well Thought Out Dynamic Warm Up
—> Foam Roll 2-3 muscle groups relevant to main lift (squat, deadlift, bench press)
—> Articulate joints in full range of motion
—> Mobility exercises and flow
—> Stability exercises
2 – Primer Exercises For Main Mover
—> Explosive movements to ramp up nervous system and prep for main movement. Example: Squat Jumps to prepare for Kettlebell Squats.
3 – Perfomance
—> Compound Movement (deadlift, squat, bench press)
—> Don’t exceed 80% effort
—> Perform 2-3 PERFECT reps for 2-3 sets
—> 90 seconds to 2 minute rest between sets
4 – Accessory / Metabolic Stress / PUMP
—> Exercises at sub-maximal effort such as lunges, step ups, rows etc.
—> Joint friendly exercises that elevate your heart rate for an extend period of time such as Sled Pulls. Work time may range from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
—> Leg curls, bicep curls, straight bar press downs at a higher rep count of 8-15 reps
I’ve discussed this concept of training and slayed it out for people in the past and the common question is…
“Well if I just work at 80% and never go above that, how will I get stronger.”
Remember that I said “80% effort”.
So let’s say you’ve been deadlift for 4 weeks at the same weight, but the next 4 week protocol calls for you to lift at 80% again – when you start week one of the next program, you find that the weight that you did in the previous program now feels about 70%…then increase the weight so you get to 80%.
Your body is an amazing piece of technology that will adapt to a specific demand. It builds muscle to protect the skeleton from injury.
As you train, you compromise the integrity of your skeleton with each rep. If you allow for adequate recovery (I’ll cover this next week) then your body will repair itself, increasing strength and muscle mass to adapt to the imposed demand of training.
You don’t have to increase the weight 5 or 10 pounds each week to get stronger. This is one of the common misconceptions in training and unfortunately results in injury for many.
So even though I say training to not exceed 80% effort in training, doesn’t mean you’re never going to get stronger. If you commit to training consistently for the next year and never exceed 80% effort in training, I guarantee you’ll be a stronger human being and laugh at the numbers you did when you started. And the bonus, you’ll significantly reduce your risk of injury both in and out of the gym.
Final thoughts for this week…
Enjoy the process of training. You have the rest of your life to optimize your health. Rushing the process will only compromise your health. I have never seen it work out for anyone to cut corners.
Create a game plan.
Execute with consistency.
Progress with efficiency.