Written by: Esteban Alexander – Elite Shredded Academy Trainer
I’ve been helping people transform their bodies since I finished my college. I am now a grown up and in that time, I’ve made countless mistakes. Bad workouts and strenuous training affects our overall body completion. There were times when my mistakes made me question if I was in the wrong industry. Until I realized that the obstacle is the way.
Once I used this experience as a foundation for smarter program design, I have realized tremendous changes. Clients became fitter. These precious lives were transformed and rules of fat loss and muscle gain become more reality than myth.
I have learned to adapt concepts to individuals, learning that body types, past training history, lifestyle preferences, and injuries were all just as important as nutritional and exercise science. This is where results happen: when evidence-based practices meet individual needs and are combined with personality considerations, which help with consistency.
While we offer no magic pill in fitness, applying these tips is the equivalent of digesting 1o years of training advice in 5 minutes.
Think First, Workout Later
It’s important to build plans that are fun, and easier to articulate at the start. If your clients loves biceps curls, you better believe you should include some variation of biceps curls. Creating a system of reward (even if by exercise) allows for more focus and intensity.
Precaution: But your client is not the expert. Do what they want, and ultimately you’re ignoring what they need.
While there are people who are more physically talented, Michael Jordan’s mindset is a big reason why most people consider him the greatest athlete of all time. MJ would find his opponents weakness and exploit them relentlessly.
I use same approach over and over with all my clients. Find your weaknesses. Lift up your pride. And train until you’re proud of a lift you used to hide.
If you think you can find your Achilles heel, start by comparing some basics:
- pulling strength to pushing (how much can you row vs. how much can you bench?)
- quad to hamstring (how much can you deadlift vs. how much can you squat?)
- upper body to lower body (how often do you train your upper body vs. lower body; not just days, but also reps and sets)
These are simple questions that give you a starting point of what to look for. It’s also good to ask yourself why you avoid certain movements. Most of the time, it’s because you’re avoiding something you need to work on. If you’re not finding weaknesses, you’re probably not looking hard enough.
Importance of 5 Pounds Rule
When my clients first receive a workout plan they almost always ask the same question: It’s either:
- How much weight should I use?
- Is my strength at a good level?
My answer is always the same: The weight you start with doesn’t matter. Just make sure each training session builds on the last. Improve each session, and within a short time you can almost guarantee you’ll see some amazing results.
Progress might mean more reps, more sets, or shorter rest periods. These are all good goals. But if I’m being honest, most people always manipulate these variables and ignore a fundamental principle of resistance training: strength.
That’s why my first phase usually starts with one goal: non-max lifts with the focus of adding at least five pounds to each exercise on each workout. The five pounds doesn’t sound like much, but if accomplished, you’re looking at some serious strength gains in a very short period of time. Then you can start manipulating reps, sets, and rest, and that’s when transformation kicks into high gear.
Inconsistent Causes Failure
If the five-pound rule sounds a little unachievable, it’s probably because you’re used to the same weights workout. You’re basically training but not benefiting. The goal of your workouts here is to strain your body every session.
While most people use soreness as an indicator of a good (or bad) workout, it’s fools gold. Soreness isn’t a real indicator. Anyone can easily make you sore with a workout. But that doesn’t mean it’s what your body needs.
I prefer metrics like how you feel, activities you can perform, how you look in the mirror, how much weight you’ve added to the bar, how you sleep, energy levels, how your clothes fit, body measurements, body fat, and many other indicators of progress.
If you really want to look and feel great focus on how you feel, and the changes will follow. In simple words every time you walk into the gym you want to push yourself as hard as possible.
Some days it will mean a PR, and other days it will mean finishing a workout when you normally would have taken a day off. If you’re exhausted and too sore to train with intensity, you’ll put in effort that isn’t the most efficient route to your goal.
Cardio Is Not the Enemy
Cardio is an important element in all my routines because having a strong aerobic system is a very important thing. Whether your focus is fat loss, muscle gain, improving health, or becoming a better athlete. When you lift weights your body fatigues faster. But if you have a strong aerobic system, you will stay fresh and you can train longer and harder.
Need a place to start? Add 1-2 cardio session that last less than 30 minutes, with your heart rate around 60 to 70 percent of your max. You can jump rope, go for a hike, swim, or almost any type of lower-to-moderate intensity activity.
In the gym and not a fan of math? The goal is avoiding a “run-for-your-life” sprint mentality. Instead, crank up a treadmill to a steep incline, and walk or jog at a moderate pace. Sure, it might not be as fun as max set deadlifts, but it will make a difference.