Your training is going well. You are making gains. Lifts are going up and times are coming down. And you’re injury-free. Can it get any better? Of course it can. Here are some ideas.
1. Mix it Up: We don’t have the routine of “leg day” or “arm day” so we have the freedom of mixing things up. In fact, it’s better that we aren’t slaves to the same old, same old. Take different days off. If you train at a gym, do some workouts at home. If you already train at home, go to the park. If you are in the habit of using barbells, do some workouts with dumbbells, sandbags, kegs or kettlebells. While you’re at it, try sessions with just bodyweight workouts. Crossfit is successful with this randomized approach. Of course, if you are an elite athlete, do what your coach programs for you.
2. Get Some Training: From time to time, hire a trainer or a coach. If you already train with one, then train with another one with a different modality or training philosophy. Hopefully, it won’t be too late to undo your bad training habits!
3. Rest and Active Rest: Train hard when you are training but when it is time for complete rest, stay away from any form of exercise. When it is best for an active rest, then do the fun things you seldom have the time for like riding a bike, taking a hike, or a game of pick-up basketball. Make sure you get plenty of sleep and allow your own HGH to repair and build your body to new, higher levels. It would be a shame to work so hard in the gym and never give your body enough time to catch up, right.
4. Volunteer Your Time: Whether or not you compete, help out at a competition like a road race or a strongman competition. You will gain valuable perspective from “being on the other side” of things. The athletes will appreciate your support and encouragement and you will have a great time of it. When the event is over, you will likely generate a ton of enthusiasm for your next event or training cycle.
5. Quality Over Quantity: Michael Jordan played the game of basketball so well it seemed effortless. We all thought we could “be like Mike”. Of course his elite training and innate skill on the court was unparalleled, so rather than pile more weight on the bar and struggle mightily, instead, stay lighter and train for the best form and technique possible for your body and ability. You will have limitations. We all do, but you will improve in spite of them. Nothing looks better than elegant and efficient technique. You may want to buy some good books and dvds to help, but nothing beats “eyes on” from an expert. A nice additional benefit is a lower incidence of injury when your movements are correct.
6. Eliminate Distractions: Kids, dogs, gabby training partners, lousy music, wandering attentions all make for sub-par workouts. When you can focus like a laser beam on your training, you’ll hit better numbers, your workouts will take half as much time and again, less chance to get hurt. In short, get rid of distractions and you will train safely. Weights are entirely predictable in what they will do, so pay attention to what you are doing. If you have a training partner that isn’t as serious as you, then train alone or get a new training partner. Brooks Kubik, author of “Dinosaur Training” has a “no-talking rule” among training partners. There is no yakking about anything other than words of encouragement for the performing lifter. That is a far cry from what usually goes on when two or more people are training together.
7. Train Someone Else: Similar to #4. Take someone under your wing and teach them some of what you know. It is a generous thing to do but for a selfish purpose, you get to learn the skill you are teaching over and over. This will improve your own mastery of those skills, like a barbell squat snatch.
8. Get Your Diet Right: You can train hard day in and day out and greatly increase your strength and overall conditioning and still be fat and unhealthy. Do your dietary due diligence and embrace good health and lower your body fat, (especially around your belly, guys). Stay away from fad diets and fad supplements. I have my ideas and know what works for me and you have to do the same for you. Without good health, it doesn’t matter much what you can do in the gym. Good health trumps it all.
9. Hydrate. You don’t drink enough water every day. Admit it. And the water in coffee, tea and diet cola doesn’t count. So what if you have to pee more often. Just a 3% drop in fluids will greatly impair your performance. (Just don’t do too late in the evening or it may mess up a perfectly good sleep cycle. See #3).
10. Keep a Training Journal: Keeping and using a training journal will help you determine what workout you are going to do at the gym. With a journal, you can design training cycles and keep track of everything. There will be no “winging it”. You can compete against your times and weight successfully lifted for everything you do. You will find what works, what doesn’t work and analyze why. One thing that is a given is your training will be much better with a journal than without one. One day when you are old (but still fit, hopefully), you can reminisce about what you were able to do in your younger years!
**Bonus** 11. Pay Attention To What Dan John Sez: “Our mission? To teach everyone:
1. The body is one piece.
2. There are three kinds of strength training:
- •putting weight overhead,
- •picking it off the ground, and
- •carrying it for time and distance.
3. All training is complementary.
I have never seen strength training summed up so elegantly, so Michael Jordan-like.
What can you add to this list? I invite your comments.
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