A client asked me: “Why do you call me a beginner? I have been lifting for four years now.”
That made me realize a fundamental issue with training: we are too focused on all the external stimuli such as time in the gym, sets, weights, etc., when in reality, none of this matters.
If I have a piano but all I do is hammer on it, I will always be a beginner. Most trainees simply attack the weights without improving their form.
Yes, but people get stronger??!!!
This is true but the main issue is: who is lifting the weight?
In most cases it is a mix between ligaments, joints, inertia, auxiliary muscles, and a little bit of the actual target muscle.
Therefore, the trainee is not really making progress despite all the external parameters improving: he does more weight, more reps, sets, volume.
Sadly, he only looks marginally better, or worse, got injured. Basically, he is using a shotgun to hunt. Lots of pellets flying but very few actually hit the target. Ideally, you want to trade up to a precision rifle.
What is to be done? ( the video is here )
1. Realize that we are all beginners; at the very least when it comes to certain muscle groups and exercises. Personally, I struggle with feeling my chest when pressing, as well as step ups.
2.Once you understand that nothing, absolutely nothing matters if you do not execute, you can start changing your mindset from “How many sets, do I do? Which exercise? How much weight?” to “How can I challenge the muscle the most?”
3. From there on, you should find one exercise that allows you to do just that. Strive for three to four sets with perfect reps.
4.Once you master that, add a second exercise and work until you reach 12-16 sets for that muscle while keeping great form.
I admit, it is a bit of a tedious approach since you are not simply increasing the weight every week, as most training programs ask for.
You can increase the weight if you can deliver perfect reps, and only then. In order to train like that, you need a great deal of mental focus so I recommend capping the workout after 45 minutes.
Your other option is to have great genetics and lots of drugs; then none of the above matters 🙂