Monday, August 8, 2011

Slow and Steady...

One of my favorite things about the summer is that I have time off from school and I work more hours at the gym.  I get a chance to take on some new clientele and see some really good progress in a short period of time.  I also train some of my "college kids" that come home for the summer and have developed physically and mentally since they have been away at school.

With all new clients, as well as older one's, everybody wants to see results.  Whether it's a decrease in body fat or increasing a certain lift, results are what you pay a trainer for and why you step foot inside a gym.

We all know that you can't lose 5% body fat in a week, or increase your bench press 100lbs. in a month.  Sometimes sufficient progress is actually learning how to squat properly, or do a chin-up with a full range of motion.  Getting stronger on an exercise with godawful form, can do more harm than good.  Concentrate on small improvements such as range of motion, adding a little more weight, or a slight increase in reps. 

Once your form and technique is dialed in slow / progressive gains will provide long term results.  Increase the the difficulty of the movement by increasing the range of motion, such as going from a stationary lunge to a walking lunge- it doesn't seem like much but it's a slow and steady gain.  A reverse lunge can be made more difficult by lunging off a step, or adding a knee lift which incorporates a little more stability into the movement.

Increasing the weight of a movement by using 2.5's, you know those "little" plates you see in the gym.  If you add 5 lbs. to a lift every month, that's 60 lbs. a year.  Will you always be able to increase that much? Probably not- but for a while those 2.5's will really provide a measurable strength gain.

Add a couple of "quality" reps to an exercise.  Certain lifts like dead lifts should actually be done with lower reps, I'd say 3-10 (at the most) because of the possible strain on the lower back.  However, lifts like Dumbbell Rows or  Reverse lunges increasing the reps by 1 or 2 every few weeks is a slow and steady measure of progress.

When it comes to body fat / weight loss, you didn't get "pleasantly plump"  in 2 weeks, so it's gonna take a little longer than that to take it off.  Losing a couple pounds a week is good progress, of course the more you have to lose the easier it is to see the numbers on the scale drop.  If you go "gung ho" for you first 2 weeks and lose 8lbs., it's almost guaranteed that your going to cave into some Ben & Jerry's and put back on few of those pounds.  Improve you diet, but don't so crazy you drool every time you go past a McDonald's.

Little changes and little improvements will yield big results.  Don't think about losing 40lbs., just be focused to clean up your nutrition and concentrate on that first 5lbs.  You want to bench 300lbs. and you can only lift 250- let's try to get 255, than 260, and so on- small progressive gains also will be less problematic as far as joint health is concerned.

It's just about impossible to get better at everything at once  (increasing strength, getting leaner, gaining muscle, improving cardiovascular fitness) especially if you are using proper technique and performing exercises how they should be done.  You can improve on certain areas if you dedicate yourself to strengthening your weaknesses and focus on the right way to do things rather than, just doing them.  (ex. A squat above parallel compared to a squat to proper depth).

If your mind is focused and you have a well structured plan, positive results will be achieved.  Look at your weekly progress, and concentrate on making slow and steady gains.  Within time you will be accomplishing your bigger goals and achieving great things.

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