Updated: 6 days ago
Arnold Schwarzenegger has a famous line in an interview he did back in 2017. He says, "sleep faster" (Funny, right?) The line is a part of a speech talking about utilizing ones time, to make the most of it, specifically, working harder than others. It doesn't take much - an hour a day dedicated towards your goal to get 365x more out of dreams.
Some of us assume it takes hours on hours a day that you need to dedicated towards your side hustle or goal to achieve success. Most of us stop before we begin because of that daunting thought.
What if I told you, in life and in the gym, you don't need to put in that much time to get the most out of whatever it is you hope to accomplish. In fact, I'd argue that 9/10 times, it's more of a situation of doing less that makes the most impact.
I am referring mostly to time spent in the gym and number of exercise you perform in a session.
Training is a game of numbers. How many sets, how many reps, how heavy, how long you spend in the gym, etc. and those new to the gym usually (not always) enjoy establishing those numbers as high as possible.
Newbies, or amateurs (as we'll refer to them) set schedules to get into the gym 5-6 days a week, include workouts and outdoor cardio activities, make sure that each muscle group gets at least 5-6 exercises, want to leave the gym feeling pumped and "destroyed" and believe it takes that level of dedication to achieve what they may see on Instagram or Facebook.
Here are some drawbacks to this mentality:
1. You're not leaving yourself with enough time to rest, recover and grow your muscles
The gym is designed to break down tissues, creating a response in your body to adapt to the overload in order to cause less damage in the future.
2. It is overwhelming
After your initial raw raw raw moment (usually lasts 2-4 weeks) your body is going to be hurting, you'll be tired, you'll realize you're spending too much time at the gym and you'll be drawn back to old habits. It's just not sustainable.
Don't get me wrong. I believe we all go through a period of thinking like this. We desire results and think by adding more I can get their quicker.
But, as we all know, that just isn't the way the world works. Typically, all the best things in life take time, understanding, care, and wisdom. This is true for money, relationships, health, knowledge, and success.
Here is the solution to overdoing it at the gym. Do less.
Anti-climatic, I know but let me give you the practical, with examples, solution.
The 5x5 Program: Pick 10 exercises, 2-3 compound, 3-5 accessory and the rest isolation. Split them into 2 days making sure you do the compound exercises first, accessory second and isolation last. Make sure that both days follow this same pattern. You will repeat days 1 and 2 twice in a week, making a total of 4 workout sessions. The first exercises will be 5x5 and the accessories will be 3x10. Isolations you can have a bit of fun with but stick to 2x15 if you're unsure.
Day 1&3 Day 2&4
Back Squats 5x5 Deadlifts 5x5
BB Bench 5x5 BB Bench 3x10 (because I repeated it in both workouts)
Bulgarian S.S. 3x10 Pulldowns 3x10
DB Bench 3x10 Shoulder Press3x10
Tricep Ext 2x15 Bicep Curls 2x15
The Gold Standard: Pick 7 exercises for 3 separate days. Make sure there is an exercise for each major muscle group (Chest, Back, Shoulders, Arms, Legs, Abs, Glutes) and put one of each in each into each day. All the exercises will be 3x10.
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Leg Press 3x10 RDL 3x10 Front Squats 3x10
Incline DB Bench 3x10 Pull-Ups 3x10 BB Bench 3x10
Military Press 3x10 Push-Ups 3x10 Reverse Lunges 3x10
Glute Bridges 3x10 Hip Thrusters 3x10 Single Arm Row 3x10
Seated Cable Row 3x10 Lateral Raises 3x10 Shoulder Press 3x10
DB Bicep Curls 3x10 Tricep Extension 3x10 BB Bicep Curl 3x10
Ab Wheel 3x10 Banded Cruches 3x10 Windshield Wipers 3x10
Shake and Bake: 3 days a week, you will get up 30 min after waking up and do a steady state cardio for 30 min (keeping your HR at around 70%). This cardio can be anything from running, biking, rowing, scuba diving, or anything in-between. On those same days you'll do what is called an undulated program rotating between light, moderate and heavy weight. We will call light as sets of 15, moderate as sets of 10 and heavy as sets of 5. Take two of the hypertrophy days, and one of the strength days. The only alteration will be changing one of the hypertrophy days to 3x15 for each exercise and perform every exercise at 60% of your capabilities.
These are just a few examples of what you could do to create a sustainable plan.
What's more important is the thought process behind them. Not the specific routine itself. You can substitute any exercises out a different one or add/subtract a set or reps from each exercise. It won't dramatically impact your progress.
Try these methods out and see what a difference it makes!
Until next time gym warriors,