Well it’s kind of like going to see fireworks. It starts off slow and picks up gradually, maybe you throw out an “ohh” or “ahh” but it’s not what you want! All of a sudden BOOM, that grand finale blows your socks off. That finale is the only thing you really are waiting to see!
Similarly, the testing is underway. I’m going to the gym, following 4weeks2shred’s training and nutrition. You don’t want to hear about the day-to-day stuff. You want that finale; the before and after pictures, the analysis, the “does it work”. You’ll just have to wait until it’s all said and done! As a teaser, the picture above is Kris’s results from 4weeks2shred. I’m hoping to match them!
But don’t worry I’m not going to leave you hanging for the next 4 weeks! Over the years I have learned plenty of useful tidbits along the way. I plan to entertain you in the mean time and hopefully pass along some useful information.
Check your ego at the door
How many of you have heard this expression and merely shrugged it off? As a beginner I was always self-conscious about my strength. I used to stay away from barbells and dumbbells and work on machines where no one would know what weight I was using. Whenever I did try to bench I felt that everyone was watching and would see me struggle with my 135lbs. It took many years to realize this and I hate to break it to you…. But no one is watching you, not a soul.
It doesn’t matter if you’re overweight, underweight, lean, or a giant freak monster. People are going to just keep on doing their own thing. The only way you get attention is if you’re grunting like a yeti in heat or flailing around because you have way to much weight on the bar.
Even if someone happens to watch you, they have no clue what training program you’re following. Drop sets, supersets, pyramid, rep range, pre fatigued muscles, caloric intake, sleep, stress, etc. etc. all of these things will affect your strength and no one except you knows this information.
The point is, let go of your ego. Don’t worry about what the number says on the weight your moving, worry about how the weight feels.
Can you feel the weight in the muscles you’re targeting? This is called mind-muscle connection and it’s critical to stimulate muscle growth. Does the weight you’re using bring you close to failure at your desired rep range? Training with good form and hitting your reps will not only build your strength quicker but also helps prevent injuries. No matter how young you are injuries can happen and they can WILL set you back months on your training and goals.
Yeah sure, hitting a new 1 rep max feels great! I’m not advising against that. Go ahead and attempt that new max, occasionally. Just remember what got you there. It was your training with lower weight and higher reps that allowed you to get that new max lift. I find that focusing on my goals keeps me from attempting an ego trip lift. Why am I actually in the gym? Am I in the gym to hit a new max that only gives me bragging rights or to build muscle for strength and size and transform my physique? Personally, I never go for only 1 rep. If I’m testing for strength increase I stick to 2-3 reps until failure and only once every 2-4 months. This helps me use better form and limit my risk for injury. After you can back calculate your 1 rep max here.
Finally, there are going to be days where you just feel weak. It happens.There will be ebbs and flows within your training. Don’t let that get you down! If you can’t lift what you typically could then lower the weight and hit the reps! Never let this upset you. Drop your ego, drop the weight and hit it as hard as you can!
Trust me, that girl you’ve been eyeing will be much more impressed watching you bang out 10 perfect reps at 135 than watching you flail and break your back trying to put up 185.
This advice isn’t just for beginners. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Sir Flex-a-lot. If you spend more time checking yourself out in front of the mirror you might need to check that ego. I’m sure you’re swole and beautiful but no matter how big and perfect you may think you are there is always someone better.
We are all in the gym for a reason. To the beginners, don’t worry if you can’t lift a lot everyone has to start somewhere! You have the power of beginner gains on your side! Stick with it and you’ll be putting up heavy weight in no time.
To the experienced gym bro’s, stop trying to show off, you’re going to end up hurting yourself. The 1 rep max should be respected and not a weekly attempt. Practice makes perfect so work on perfecting your lifting form. Since you do have the experience don’t expect every day to be the best day. Some days you will be tired. Accept that and go harder next time you work that muscle group.
And to those prettiest princesses at the ball, yea you may be the fairest of them all… but you’re in the gym. Do your workout! They sell mirrors at home depot and you can stare at yourself at home. Unless you compete save your flexing routine for behind closed doors. (I’ve talked to about 6 guys that do this and none of them has ever stepped foot on stage). You are a role model to many less experienced lifters start acting like it!
Unfortunately I learned this the hard way. During my lifting career I have dislocated my shoulder and herniated a disc in my back. I was able to recover from both injuries but it set me back quite a bit and was a painful road to recovery. It SUCKED! I’ve since learned from my mistakes. The human body is remarkably resilient but you need to take care of it. I hope that none of you have to learn this lesson the way I did.
Do any of you more experienced lifters have anything else to add? I think everyone at one point or another has experienced the conflict between your ego and your physical limits. Lets hear those stories!