If there are two things most gym-goers are misinformed about, it’s all the gym routine they’re following in magazines and a nutritional regimen they’re following in the kitchen.
In fact, both are probably wrong, wrong, and even more wrong.
Sure, they might work for a few people or you might see some decent results with them, but the fact is none of these approaches are individualized.
For instance, I’ve known people to embark on the Keto Diet and see fantastic results, only to gain back everything they lost and then some.
Because Keto isn’t one-size, fits all. It’s designed for specific sectors of the population.
The same goes for diets that are marketed toward bodybuilders, many of which feature far more protein than what’s necessary.
And yes, even those that might remain more traditional with higher-carb, moderate fat, and moderate protein intake aren’t for everyone as well.
But this isn’t a nutritional article; this one is on the gym life.
We see them in magazines all the time, especially bodybuilding magazines. Other fitness competitors and models might share their workout routines with followers, which they can purchase at a price and I’ve made this same mistake as well.
Again, why am I going to spend money to buy someone else’s routine which was probably designed for them and ONLY them by someone else?
It makes zero sense. Bodybuilder A’s routine is strictly individualized to fit their needs, as is their nutrition.
The same goes for Bodybuilders B, C, and D.
Some of us don’t want to be bodybuilders, yet we follow Celebrity A’s workout routine that was designed for Celebrity A, thinking it’ll yield us the same results.
And chances are if you’re a newbie to the gym trying to follow Dwayne Johnson’s routine, you’re going to get discouraged fast, especially when it might call for super setting squats with leg presses for five sets of ten reps, with an increase in weight with each round.
That’s pretty advanced stuff.
So save yourself heartache and be reasonable about which routine is best for you.
But if you’re just beginning, which routine is best?
Let’s take a look.
One: Determine Your Level
Are you just now returning to the gym after a few weeks, months, or years?
Then you probably shouldn’t follow a full-on training split unless your goal is a training injury.
What you should do is realize that if you’re new you need to undergo what’s called an anatomical adaptation phase, which calls for lighter weights and form-based movements to re-introduce or introduce your body to the training stimulus.
Now, if you’re a seasoned veteran with say, six to twelve months of solid training under your belt, then you might be good to follow some more challenging splits.
But if you’re brand new or returning?
Three total body workouts that hit each muscle group once for 1-2 sets and 8-12 reps is all it’s going to take in those first few weeks if you want to avoid excessive soreness. Remember, your body is going to be alarmed with what you’re now demanding from it and will respond accordingly.
For instance, say you perform eight movements for just one set, ten reps apiece, using only ten-pound dumbbells. You’re exercising with weights for the first time in a year. Let’s do the math:
You’re moving 800 total pounds when you multiply the number of sets x reps x sets x weight. So, you went from moving an additional zero pounds to an additional 800 pounds overnight.
That’s 800 times more than what your body is accustomed to.
Do this three days a week after a long layoff and you’re looking at 2,400 additional pounds moved.
Yes, your body’s going to adapt!
Two: Determine Your Experience Level
If you’re at the bare minimal level, then the above example should paint a picture on what your body is going to do. Going from zero to 2,400 within one week is going to require a lot of restructuring for your body to resist the new load you placed upon it.
Now, if you’re returning from a layoff you will have more experience, and both mind and body will recall this stimulus. Therefore, you might re-adapt to this stimulus faster than the newbie.
2,400lbs might be a shock at first, but your body will respond faster. It’s seen it before and it remembers.
Therefore, it’s possible that you could be good to increase your intensity or volume faster than someone who joined the gym two weeks ago.
So if you exercised in a gym before for two years and took a six-month break, chances are you will evolve faster. If you’ve been in the gym fewer than six weeks, your progress from a resistance standpoint won’t be as high.
Three: Define Your Weak Points
Everyone out there has strong and weak points on their body and it’s up to you to find yours. For me, my lower chest has been a problem due to my ecto-meso body type. While I’m part mesomorph, many of my body parts grow easier than most, but the flat chest that defines ectos has always killed my look.
For some, it might be the biceps. For others, their shoulders.
And finally, there are many of us who might neglect training rear delts and calves, which I’m sure few of us have ever been excited to train.
But we all have weak points and they deserve special attention. I’m not saying to train them every single day, but adding in a day of additional rear-delt training during your split would be a good idea if they’re lacking, especially since the rotator cuff muscles are back there.
For athletes, you all know how important hamstring training is and again, no one gets too excited about training hamstrings.
Four: Embrace Individuality
I think a lot of us get caught in the one-size, fits all mantra. Look, humans are 99.9% alike in DNA, but it’s the .1% that determines our individuality. And sometimes that .1% will tell us a lot.
For example: Are you an ectomorph, mesomorph, endomorph, or a combination of such? That alone tells me how different we are. Ectos tend to eat higher concentrations of carbohydrate and won’t gain a pound. Mesos build muscle easier than ectos and lose fat easier than endos. Finally, endos have to really watch what they eat if they expect to lose body fat.
The same goes for the gym routine. It’s unwise for an ectomorph looking to build muscle to train with too many supersets, tri-sets, and giant sets unless their individual goals call upon it. At the same time, for an endomorph looking to lose body fat, bench presses and squats with heavy weight are great but single sets probably won’t put the body in fat-burning mode like a super set would.
In other words, ectos can create the ‘afterburn’ effect faster than endos, and this must be recognized during a gym routine. I worked with clients on both ends of the spectrum, knowing it was unwise to put them through the same exact workout, which many trainers can be notorious for.
Instead, individualization was key and it goes both for body type, and individual goals as well.
Don’t Purchase Cookie-Cutters
Please, save your money and refrain from buying such cookie-cutter programs. They’re seriously not worth it and those handing them out have never seen nor even heard of you, so why are we even considering?
If your goal is to be a pro bodybuilder and you’re following a top-notch competitor’s routine yet you two have completely different body types, you’re wasting your time. If fat loss is your goal but you’re following someone’s program who leans closer to ectomorph, again you’re wasting your time.
So do yourself a favor and make an educated decision as to how you approach your fitness routine.