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What to do After a Beginner’s Strength Training Program

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Someone emailed me asking what they could do after a beginner’s strength training routine no longer works for them (that is, they are not capable of increasing the weight on the bar as fast as they could before when starting out). Eventually, all beginners will progress into an “intermediate stage”. This is when the body needs more volume per period to stimulate the nervous system.

The next step in the series of books I recommend is called “Practical Programming for Strength Training” by an infamous coach. It’s available on Amazon or the book’s website.

Please note that the above is an opinion and a recommendation/review on a book I have read. This site and its content has nothing to do with Mark Rippetoe, Lon Kilgore or The Aasgard Company.

How To Motivate Yourself, Part 2

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

A while back, I wrote an article titled “How To Motivate Yourself“. I came across a few more suggestions for people out there who are lazy or don’t feel like working out on their scheduled day. This is something I experience quite often, but easily control with the following tips.

Before I give you my suggestions on how to deal with laziness and tiredness, I’ll tell you my personal experience first. Since I’m a computer programmer, I sit on my ass all day writing code. This is mentally exhaustive to begin with and coupled with the caffeine crash, it really drains you down. When I get home, all I want to do is veg out and not socialize with anyone. Thanks to all this, I really don’t feel like training at all.

So here’s what I do: I think back to my previous training experiences, especially at the end of every workout session. Anyone who remembers their training days will recall the period of relaxation after a good workout. In case you’re wondering, it’s when your hormones (dopamine and serotonin, among others) get released. Don’t you feel happy after pumping some weights? This is what I focus on. This alone gets me motivated to hit the weights again and give it all I got. Once you prepare your mind for it, the rest will flow naturally. Just doing the first exercise alone (e.g. squats) really gets my blood pumping. I am then happy that I did not ditch the scheduled workout for the day.

Now, what if you’re physically tired? This is up to the trainee to figure out and organize their schedule accordingly. If you’re constantly doing physical activities (job-related, sports, etc) it’s best to train on your off days or times where your body isn’t under constant stress. At this point, athletes should talk to their personal trainer/coach for scheduling, and people working physical jobs need to find some time to let their bodies relax before pounding it with some weights.

A forgotten tip, one that I always have to remind myself to do, is taking a quick nap (1.5-3hrs) before your workout to let your mind & body rest a bit. Coming home after a hard day’s work and sleeping for a bit is quite possibly the best thing you can do for yourself. You’ll feel so much more refreshed upon waking up, and a lot more motivated to train.

One last thing I recommend is a cup of coffee or tea before your workout. This is only useful for people who don’t already load their bodies with caffeine throughout the whole day. I find that a cup of tea or a can of Red Bull can really do wonders before exercising, almost magical-like. 🙂 There are other supplements out there in the wild that are really potent in terms of energy, but I will withhold myself from listing them as getting used to them is a waste of cash and sometimes can be harmful if abused. You’re better off with my above suggestions for now. Happy training!

Starting a Strength Training Routine is More Popular Than Ever

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

It has been a while since my last update (way too long, actually) but that’s because there’s nothing new to report. However, it seems that the routine is more popular than ever, as people are starting to figure out that there’s no better way to train than full body exercises (with barbells). I have a lot of planned articles and sections for this site, but I want to make sure that they’re all polished up before I actually go ahead and release them. In the mean time, keep training! 🙂

Still Alive & Progressing Into the Intermediate Stage

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Hey everyone, I’m still here and alive. I have been training non-stop and enjoying every minute of it. I have now progressed into the Intermediate stage of strength training, as Rippetoe’s Starting Strength routine was no longer effective (I have been following it for over a year and a half mind you). The gains I have achieved with the beginner program were phenomenal, and I have been grateful for finding about the routine at the right time. I have been reading Practical Programming for Strength Training for a while now and it’s great stuff. I am learning way too much to list about it in this small post, so I encourage everyone to grab a copy and check it out for themselves instead of waiting for me to spill the beans. 🙂 I recently found out that Mark Rippetoe released another book back in November, titled Strong Enough? Thoughts from Thirty Years of Barbell Training. I will be ordering it very soon alongside my fractional plates for micro-loading.

For those who are curious, I am following Bill Starr’s 5×5 program, featured on Madcow’s site.

Bench Press Plateau on a Strength Training Routine

Sunday, May 13th, 2007

I’m sure a lot of people are wondering if plateauing on the strength training routine is even possible. It shouldn’t be surprising that it indeed is possible, but the trainee must know that you can plateau on any program, strength or not. Usually, I would have to say the number one cause for lack of strength increases is due to not eating enough. Instead of eating proper healthy foods, a lot of rookies decide to spend money on supplements in hopes of “breaking that plateau” when a simple diet change is required for less the cost.

One of my weakest areas of training is the bench press I have to admit. As of this post, I am going up in weight on the squat and deadlift on a weekly basis, while the power clean and shoulder press are progressing slowly. This is to be expected according to a professional strength training coach as the squat and deaf-lift use more muscles than the other exercises, so you will go up in weight much quicker on them as opposed to the shoulder press, power clean and bench press.

If you are interested in breaking a bench press plateau, take a look at the following suggestions.

  1. Eat well and check your diet: most rookies who start training will go up in weight and strength quite quickly without eating properly, but will end up plateauing eventually. Nutrition is probably the biggest cause of plateaus. If you want your muscles to recover and get stronger, proper nutrition is required during this phase. Remember, muscle is not made in the gym; it’s when you go home and recover after your workouts with good, clean food that allows your muscles to grow. Double check your diet; take in more protein and (clean) carbohydrates during the day. After your workout, have more protein (shakes are good) and eat well. Sometimes, people don’t eat enough and hence plateau since the muscles don’t have enough (or any) food to recover.
  2. Make sure your triceps and shoulders are good: weak triceps and shoulders will definitely stall your bench press, so make sure they’re up to par with the rest of your body. Are you doing the shoulder presses properly? Perhaps you may need additional triceps work (weighted dips are great!) to help with the load. This is usually overlooked by a lot of people.
  3. Switch to dumbbells: some people have better results with dumbbells than barbells. Rippetoe even says that dumbbells are a great (actually, better) alternative to barbells when it comes to the bench press, as it allows greater range of motion. Of course, you should definitely master the barbell bench press first before you switch to dumbbells.
  4. Take a break if you are over-training: if you have been training for months without taking a break, you should really consider laying off the weights for a week to let your fatigued body heal completely. Chances are you will come back stronger than when you left the weights. I have personally seen my strength shoot up quite a bit when I did this once, so I recommend this to anyone who has been training non-stop for months. Of course, if you’re a newcomer to weight training, taking a week off during the first 6 months to a year (in my opinion) is useless. Rookies should train as much and not miss a workout for a year (at least) as over-training their bodies during this stage is almost non-existent. For a rookie, there is no such thing as over-training. No such thing.

A lot of people will also recommend doing high repetitions for a month or two. I personally think this “recommendation” isn’t that great since it defeats the whole purpose of a strength training routine. Just my opinion, anyway.