What Are the Best Shortcuts to Size and Strength?
For those of you who are new to lifting, or just outright weak, you may be halfway through an excruciating set of deadlifts and wonder…is there an easier way?
Shall I try Romanian deadlifts next week instead?
I’ve read that sprinting improves hamstring strength, what day shall I sprint?
How many reps/days/seconds/metres/kilograms/sets?
The list of questions is endless! But maybe you shouldn’t be asking the questions in the first place. You see, when you are first starting out in training (in fact it could be anything, a new job, new hobby etc.) you NEED someone to tell you what to do. This is important because you don’t know what you are doing! So why are you acting like you do? I think it’s because when it comes to our own body, we all believe that we are the expert….we could be wrong.
To further illustrate my point, let’s imagine that you can cook a little. You can whip up a nice Bolognese for the family, but that’s about it. Now would you go into the kitchen of a big restaurant and take over head chef duties? Would you feel comfortable doing so? Probably not…
Then why do people who have never lifted before write their own programs?!
So our first shortcut to size and strength is, you guessed it:
1. Get someone who knows what they are doing to write you a program.
The second ‘shortcut’ to size and strength (I put it in quote marks because there aren’t any real shortcuts, just hard work and dedication. Yep, I pulled you in with the title didn’t I!) is:
2. Be consistent, stop program hopping, do the program you’ve been given for 12-18 months.
If everyone just lifted the way they were supposed to for the first year or so of training. We’d have a lot more elite athletes in this country. The problem is that fitness/strength and conditioning are such progressive industries that when something new comes out, everyone jumps on the bandwagon (athletes AND coaches).
Maybe as coaches we should be more cautious with what we introduce, making sure that an athlete finishes a 12 week cycle before trying out the coolest new exercise/rep scheme/equipment that we learn about every week!
Or think about this; if you currently bench 60kg x 5 reps and you improve that lift by 5kg every 6 months for 18 months…you’ll be lifting 75kg x 5 reps after a year and a half! Solid numbers, you can definitely achieve more but a gain of 15kg on your 5 rep max is nothing to be sniffed at (a 30kg increase in 18 months is acheivable).
So just be consistent and train smart, and you'll get to where you want to be much quicker than rushing around and training like an idiot, although the second way 'feels' like you're progressing more, you're really just wasting your time.
I’ll finish with a story to give you an idea of why you need to settle down and ‘punch the clock’ with your workouts (with the program that someone else who knows what they are doing has given you)…..
Once upon a time there was a group of students who were queuing up to register on their first day of university. They were starting a medical degree to hopefully become doctors in 7 years time. Amongst all of the youngsters was a 70 year old man!
One of the students said to the old man, “excuse me, are you in the right place? This is a queue to register at a university.”
“Yes, I’m sure I’m in the right place”, said the old man.
“You are going to become a doctor?!” The young student exclaimed.
“I certainly am”
“But it takes seven long years, surely you’ve retired and have done all that you want to do in life?”
“Son, I want to become a doctor, in seven years I am going to be 77 whether I want to be or not. But I can choose to be a doctor and 77, or just 77. So yes, I am sure I’m in the right place.”
Think about how this story relates to you. You can’t stop the clock, but you can decide who you are going to be in the future.