With 2011 coming to an end, I’ve learned a few things myself. And in 2012, I have no doubts, I’ll be learning a lot more. I’m stronger and more fit now than I was 5 years ago. I thought 5 years ago I was the strongest I’d ever be.
While this list is in no way definitive or comprehensive, it’s long enough that I hope just ONE of these items will ring true. I don’t know everything. I’m hoping you will help me out at the end of my list by contributing a few things you’ve learned in 2011.
Here’s my top 35 things that I’ve learned in 2011:
1. Everybody says Squats increase your Growth Hormone but nobody can definitively show whatever amount it is increased by is significant. Great exercise but don’t buy the GH boost hype. That being said, they should have a place in your training routine.
2. Learn to train alone (safely of course). In the end, you’ll never disappoint anybody or be disappointed by anybody missing a workout. When you do train with a partner, take advantage of the additional energy boost.
3. 8-12 sets for big muscle groups (legs, back) and 4-6 sets for smaller muscle groups. Less is more. I’ll never understand how anybody thinks they can grow doing 24+ sets for chest … naturally.
4. John Berardi did a nice write up on TRX and Bodybuilding. It’s quite possible to integrate alternative methods of training into time tested systems.
5. Tom Venuto said this, “Nutrition plans do need to built based on lifestyle and personal preferences.” If you can’t or don’t want to eat 5-6 meals per day you can find happy mediums. If it doesn’t fit your lifestyle or preferences, don’t beat yourself up over it.
6. If you want to look like a bodybuilder, you should train like one. All the TRX trainers in my instruction class were very fit and functional. None of them looked like me. I want to look the way I do and therefore I train for it.
7. Functional Training is the most overused concept in 2011. Somehow people get the perception that by doing isolation style exercises you won’t be as strong doing daily activities like putting away your groceries. That’s crap. I train like a bodybuilder and I never have trouble doing anything a normal person does.
8. There’s definitely an art to spotting. I rarely use a spotter because I don’t try just anybody. I will lower the weight and go to failure before asking somebody to spot me. Tip: Keep the weight moving with as little help as possible. That’s about 2 finger on a bench press. If you are using two hands and pulling, it’s not a spot. Do the person below a favor and tell him.
9. If you are going to be on a cell phone on a cardio machine or otherwise… please don’t use the speaker phone. Get a Bluetooth headset. I realize that technology has invaded our lives and you must Tweet, FB or talk between sets. Fine. Just pay attention and move away from equipment. It’s not your personal work space.
10. If you spend $400 a month on supplements, you need to re-evaluate your situation. Not all supplements are worthless but you don’t need to take all supplements. The basics shouldn’t cost you that much.
11. Nothing beats hard work. Never has and never will …
12. When doing a squat, make sure your knees track in the direction of your feet. I can’t tell you how many people do everything right but this one step. You setup for lower back issues, you limit yourself by not using the proper angles. It becomes a glorified heavy knee bend if your feet point one way and your knees are going another. Check your form.. Constantly!
13. The Smith Machine is not useless. If you can get a Sorinex one leg squat stand and do lunges, you’ll love them. There are uses for the Smith machine, you just have to be educated enough to know what they are or taught by somebody who does.
14. If your goal is big legs, you can leg press to size. You do not have to squat to get well developed, large legs. Squats offer up benefits the leg press does not but if all you want is size in legs, you can press your way to huge.
15. Pavel Tsatsoulineand Dan John often use the term “Frankenstein Training” to describe the bodybuilding approach of isolating and oblitering muscle groups.. While many people teach movement and the connection of each muscle to the entire body, keep in mind if you want to look like a bodybuilder, you will need to train like one.
16. All the TRX training in the world won’t make you look like a bodybuilder.
17. Only take advice from somebody who has already been successful themselves and teaches others to be successful. If you follow somebody who’s just learning as they go, you take the risk of making costly mistakes along with them.
18. Periodization (the practice of splitting training up into distinct periods building off the former progress) is one of the most important parts of a fitness programs ultimate success, yet few trainers and gym-goers truly understand it and most programs don’t do not include it.
19. The cumulative effects of months and years of workouts produce the dramatic results.
20. If you are taping a bunch of your favorite training programs to the dart board every 4-6 weeks and tossing a dart at them, using that for the next month or so, you are leaving your progress up to blind luck.
21. James Wilson, MSS said, “Despite being a word tossed around loosely by the fitness media today, intensity does have a concrete definition. It simply refers to the percentage being lifted of your one repetition maximum (1RM). The higher the percentage, the higher the intensity level.”
22. If you are not using logical progressions to your workouts, you are selling yourself short. Get your hands on any type of periodization resources you can and learn them. Capitalizing off previous efforts is the way to proceed.
23. Chronic dehydration can lead to several severe medical complications later in life. Just ask my grandmother. She was checked into the emergency room and had severe dehydration. It didn’t have to be this way. Drink up!
24. If you use Creatine make sure it’s micronized (dissolves faster). If you are care about the origin, look for the Creapure label that signifies it is manufactured in Germany.
25. Speculation and imagination belong in the art of building muscle. Bodybuilding it part art and part science. Taking what works and seeing if it can be improved upon should be encouraged.
26. Squats done properly are not damaging to the knees. That myth and misconception is around ever single year. Learn how to squat properly and without the ego and you’ll reap the benefits for years to come.
27. Be wary of anecdotal evidence, often found on the Internet. A testimonial is never enough. You can never be sure whether a testimonial was paid for or simply made up by the copywriter. How many times have you seen negative testimonials for the product?
28. If an ad or a website tells you “What your doctor doesn’t want you to know about,” you can safely assume it’s quackery.
29. When doing supplement research, look to see if you can find some type of seal of approval. I like ConsumerLab.com; USP and NSF International. It doesn’t guarantee the supplement will work but some certification by an accredited private company is better than nothing.
30. Strength training can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes as you grow older. Encourage somebody you know who’s not yet taken up strength training to start. You are never too old unless you’re dead.
31. If somebody walked up to you and asked you to take a pill, 99.96% of you would ask “What does it do? and “What’s in it?” Make it a point to do the same with supplements. If you choose to use products, put forth some effort to learn about them. See #27 above; anecdotal and brologic “it worked for me bro!” is NOT research. See #29 for a place to start.
32. “I’ve never met a forty-five year old who didn’t care about his health and appearance, but I’ve met many who regretted not caring twenty-five years ago.” Tom Venuto in the Body Fat Solution.
33. Soreness is not an indicator of progress but past performance is. Write down your training and seek to improve upon it even if by the smallest of measurable efforts.
34. Be skeptical of gimmicks but don’t be closed minded. I’m sure when Twitter and Facebook launched, many people thought it would be a fad. Like your grandparents and the telephone. Be open to trying new routines, machines, exercises but be clear about your goals and have some way to measure progress.
35. Investigate taking a fish oil if you don’t already. While there is no official recommendation, 3g a day is a good start. Most if not all products will error on the side of caution and recommend 1.2g. In studies, 3-6 g have therapeutic benefits. Don’t’ believe me though, go check out Consumerlab.com
What about you? Did you learn anything new, interesting or crazy in 2011?
Check out my website: No Bull Bodybuildng.
About the Author:
Marc David is an innovative fitness enthusiast and the creator of the “NoBull Bodybuilding System” method on www.nobullbodybuilding.com
He can show you how to reduce your body fat thru diet, how to gain weight or create more muscle thru an abundance of workout tips by training LESS, not more! Once a self-confessed skinny, “135-pound weakling.” Today Marc is a 200 pound bodybuilder who teaches thousands of people to gain weight, build muscle and reduce body fat with a workout and nutrition system so simple that even a complete beginner can understand it! Marc dispels many “bodybuilding myths”, tells you what most people never realize about nutrition, and what the drug companies DON’T WANT YOU to know. Visit www.nobullbodybuilding.com