After 23 years of gym training, I would define my best workouts as what the subject heading states.
The best workouts are the ones that ‘flow’. It is the fusion or culmination of chaos and structure.
You want your workouts to be a continuous progression of 15 to 60 second ‘focused moments’ within a rough plan. Chaos and structure fused together. You want a workout to hang together like a champion team with many muscle parts moving along cohesively as ‘one’ with one objective.
So, how do you make your workouts more orderly and have structure? How do you go from the myriad of workout possibilities and the chaos of research and conception to the necessary order of the actual workout? How do you choose between low reps or high reps? Which is better? Should you use heavy weights or moderate weights or feather weights? How long should you rest between sets? So many questions, so many answers.
Its neither in the questions nor the answers. Its in the intention. Your intention.
It can all get quite confusing and overwhelming, so much so that it would stop well-intentioned beginners in their tracks enough to quit even before they get started. Very sad indeed. They have so much information, most of which contradicts one another and so it leaves them with a feeling of not knowing where to start.
What I have always tried to do in almost all areas of my life is to manage my funnels better, to keep things simple. This includes my approach to my gym training. Keep this in mind.
When it comes to muscle, building quality muscle it is very similar to life itself. It builds on two principles:
Here’s what I find helps:
1.Visualize and simulate.
In other words I try to arrive at my completed workout (in my mind) before I begin it.
I always have a ‘rough plan’ in mind. Here, a rough plan is like the scaffolding of a non-existing building, its there and provides structure and a bit of security but I don’t usually stick to it like glue. Nope, most of the time I do something completely different.
So, I have a rough plan – but I don’t stick to it!
“Why have a plan?” you may be thinking.
Well, I have found over the years that a rough plan will serve you better than an elaborate one or none at all when it comes to getting the best experience and results from workouts. You see, workouts generally have a way of making itself up as you go along due to the many variables you are faced with when you are in the gym within a rough plan.
Some variables you may likely experience is fluctuating energy levels, unavailability of machines, lack of focus, lack of sleep, rude patrons and so on.
2. Know what your goals are: be specific and then stick to it!
Whilst a rough plan is ideal, knowing what your specific training goals are is critical and will serve you much better than a general, loose one. You need to know what it is you’re trying to achieve before you go lift any kind of weights. What are you striving for – strength, power, endurance, better shapely physique? For example, if you want to train for strength then training like a marathon runner in the gym will highly likely end in disappointment.
Know where you stand and where you mean to go and be very clear about it. A workout is also not meant to be a walk in the park or sleep walk!
3. Dream it before you lift it.
Workouts are usually more enjoyable and shorter when its been thought through first. That is what I have concluded in my over two decades of deliberate practice of contracting and extending skeletal muscles in my entire body.
I ask myself questions – what am I trying to do here with this set of this particular exercise? What am I trying to achieve? How well am I doing each rep of each set of each exercise? What am I trying to feel after doing it? What am I looking for? Unless you’ve got answers to those questions, you’d better keep your hands away from those weights or don’t rush in to it or you may increase your risk of injuries. Better still, seek help from a suitably experienced professional.
Whilst training goals and a rough plan gives you structure and order the danger is that you can spend all your time planning and doing nothing. The truth is we discover weight training through training. Its that simple. You do your hardest training doing the training, the actual physical lifting – not in your mind.
A workout process gives you that sense of achievement at its completion among other things. Out of the process of its own unraveling. Out of the process itself chaotic – the thinking of the sets of the exercises and the order of the exercises that make up each workout and then the execution of the actual physical workout.
.. the road ahead ..
It is through trial and error and deliberate practice over time that a genuine gym enthusiast discovers what it is he or she is really trying to achieve and how he or she needs to bind it together in some order – some framework. He finds his or her muscle success formula.
You may find you asking yourself how each set you doing of a particular exercise contributes to your physical goal. I know I have always done so and still do.
If you’re diligent enough you may find yourself getting to the end of each set doing it rhythmically, economically and competently and moving progressively towards your specific goals. This is ideal.
You may find yourself feeling one of the best feelings you could feel in your lifetime, a feeling that only a few gym enthusiasts feel. I have trained people that have trained for over 30 years and have not felt this feeling.
This is a feeling that is as elusive as the Tasmanian tiger. You see anyone can lift weights but not many people get to learn to lift weights the right way and really ‘feel’ what you’re meant to feel in the worked muscle and your whole body. All my clients past and present feel it in their workouts. Its a gift from me to them.
A feeling that all bodybuilders refer to as the ‘pump’.
A feeling that I call the ‘essence’. A feeling that is climaxed through the ideal reps of the ideal set which makes for the best workout – the fusion of chaos and structure in and out of the gym. Its almost like daily living in some ways.
… but that essence ain’t vanilla essence!
You friend in muscle and body transformation success,
Until next time,