The following guide seeks to give a brief overview of some of the steps necessary to develop a healthy and strong physique.
Step 1. Focus on the marathon and make it sustainable
In order to make significant muscle gains you will need to find a way to weight train a few times a week over a long period of time. Just as the fable of the hare and tortoise it will be the one who can stay in the race the longest who will come out on top. A common mistake people who are looking to get in shape make is to enter a new lifestyle with all the vigour in the world, only to end it a few months later. Why? Because it hasn’t been sustainable, for whatever reason. So make sure that your training is something that will work in your life over a long period of time. Even if it means ‘only’ training 30 minutes with weights 3 days a week, this will still give you results if you keep it up for long enough!
Step 2. Focus on progression in the weight room
In order to get muscular and strong you have to force your body to adapt. This can only be done via progressive overload in the weight room. If you do not continuously strive to get stronger or to do more work your body will not be forced to adapt. Any good training program or schedule has a set plan to get stronger over time. These gradual steps are indeed little ones, but when measured over a long period of time it adds up to a lot! Ways to progress can include a higher amount of repetition per set per exercise; for example, doing 11 repetitions at 70 kg on the bench press instead of 10 repetitions. It can also mean simply increasing the weight; for example doing 10 repetitions at 72.5 kg on the bench press instead of 10 repetitions at 70 kg!
Step 3. Focus on the heavy compound movements
There are a wide variety of machines and exercises available in most gyms. Furthermore you will probably see new ‘sensational’ methods of training appearing from time to time. However, in order to get massive you have to lift massively. The heavy compound movements are what will make you big and strong. These include deadlifts, squats, bench press, military press, and chins. If you are unsure of how to approach your training or if you have little time for training on your hands, make sure that you focus on these exercises. Everything else is only supplementary. All exercises are not equal; the deadlift will put more mass on you than a biceps curl machine!
Step 4. Train with passion and fury
Prayers in the Temple of Iron are a unique opportunity to unleash the proverbial beast. Even though some socialisation might be in order it is not the case that you are in the gym to be pretty. You are there to ensure your progression in the main lifts; this will require some mental techniques to pump yourself up. A favourite technique of mine is to conjure up epic images in my mind; the opening scene in Gladiator, to name one. To give another example ther,e are a lot of testosterone-filled epic scenes in 300 that can serve as a last-minute mental boost. The key concept here is to expel thoughts that are not related to your physical prowess and make room for epic thoughts which will inspire you to epic deeds!
Step 5. Nutrition and sleep
These factors might not be as glorious as maxing out on the deadlift. They are, however, very important for your long-term success. Getting around 7-8 hours of sleep each night will maintain a good hormonal balance, and boost your immune system and ability to recover from exertion. Getting one night’s bad sleep will not be detrimental, but getting bad sleep for several days in a row will negatively affect your hormone balance, however.
Good daily nutrition will play a huge role not only in your results at the gym, but also when it comes to health and productivity in general. It is never a bad investment to ensure that your dietary habits are in order. General guidelines for keeping a good diet is to include a lot of vegetables and greens (it may be a cliché but it is true nonetheless!), and avoid processed foods. Eating locally grown produce can also be beneficial; the added bonus here is that you’re helping your local community!
A supplement that can aid in your overall well-being is vitamin D3, which is available in most pharmacies and health shops.
For visual examples of the exercises I have plenty of training motivational videos in this playlist on YouTube.