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AboutBrad Schoenfeld, CSCS is the author of six books, including Sculpting Her Body Perfect, 28-Day Body Shapeover, and Look Great Naked. He’s certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and by both the American Council on Exercise and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America; he’s also been named “master trainer” by the International Association of Fitness Professionals.
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Warmer weather is in the air. Before you know it, Memorial Day will be upon us along with outdoor barbecues, pool parties and trips to the beach.
The first step in creating a game plan: clarify your fitness goals. Determine what you want to get out of your training efforts. More size? Better symmetry? Enhanced definition? Each of these objectives requires specific training protocols and, thus, a different game plan.
Once you have qualified your goals, you can formulate a routine. It’s important to plan out each workout in advance. You must know what you are going to do prior to entering the gym. Decide on the exercises, sets and reps that you will perform. Write them down, if necessary. Account for any possible contingencies. Leave nothing to chance.
During training, avoid any interruptions or distractions. Now is not the time to socialize or daydream. Save these activities until after you've completed your last set. All of your energies should be focused on carrying out your game plan. Your time in the gym is precious. If you want to make progress, make sure that every moment is spent productively.
Vary Your Routine
It’s amazing how many people go to the gym and perform the same workout from one session to the next. Day after day, month after month, year after year, their routines don't change. How boring! When training becomes mundane, apathy is bound to set in. Ultimately, motivation wanes and a plateau is sure to follow.
The best way to avoid complacency is by constantly varying your exercise regimen. Variety is the spice of training. Not only does it help to keep your workouts fresh, but it also fosters more complete development of your physique. Your body adapts to a repetitive stress. When the same stimulus is applied on a regular basis, the body doesn't respond as well to the stimulus. Only by keeping your body off guard will you continue to reap muscular rewards.
Vary your routine and utilize an array of exercises. You should strive to perform different movements every time you train. For instance, if you normally perform seated curls, cable curls and concentration curls for your biceps, change your routine to include hammer curls, preacher curls and EZ curls in your next session. There are dozens of different exercises at your disposal; use as many as possible.
Go All Out
When you first start lifting weights, results tend to come rather easily. Virtually anything you do is a new stimulus to your body and, as long as your technique is reasonably sound, you are apt to make good progress. However, your body becomes accustomed to specific load patterns and results begin to slow. Hence, in order to elicit further gains, you need to train harder. If you don't, your body won’t change. It’s as simple as that.
To avoid this fate, your muscles must be stressed beyond their physical capacity. By nature, the human body strives to maintain stability (a phenomenon called homeostasis). If your training intensity doesn't sufficiently tax your body's resources, there won't be enough of a stimulus to force your body from its homeostatic state. Only by progressively overloading your muscles will they be compelled to produce an adaptive response and grow beyond their normal potential.
As a rule, you need to be struggling on each set. This means the last few reps should be difficult, if not impossible, to complete. Sure, there will be some temporary discomfort associated with this type of training. However, to achieve optimal results, you must push past the pain threshold and completely fatigue your target muscles. Anything less and results will be compromised.
Give it your all and you’ll be rewarded with a better body.
Brad Schoenfeld is one of America’s leading fitness experts. He’s the author of Sculpting Her Body Perfect, 28-Day Body Shapeover and the bestseller Look Great Naked. He is a columnist for FitnessRX for Women magazine, and has been published or featured in nearly every major fitness and women’s magazine. Schoenfeld is certified as a strength and conditioning specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and as a personal trainer by both the American Council on Exercise and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America; he’s been named “master trainer” by the International Association of Fitness Professionals. Check out his website www.lookgreatnaked.com
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