Posted On 29 Sep 2009
What’s the best exercise program for you? I don’t know. It will be one that you have either adapted or designed and refined over time.
Start with some solid principles for designing any effective exercise program. For example, each training session should be built around either squats (or a squat variation), deadlifts (or a deadlift variation), or both. For example, train larger muscle groups before smaller ones. For example, each training session shouldn’t be too long (about 45 minutes max). For example, vary routines frequently enough so that you keep challenging your body.
Keep a written record of your training and analyze it so that you can benefit most from tactics that work well for you and drop tactics that don’t work well for you. Keep training, analyzing, and adapting.
Here’s another principle that is useful for designing an exercise program that is both efficient and effective. (Efficiency is performing tasks as economically as possible, whereas effectiveness is doing tasks that get you closer to your goals.) It was implicit in my last post about going from squats to the more difficult box squats.
Always be alert for ways to make exercises more difficult. I do not, of course, mean either using dangerous exercises (such as behind-the-neck presses or pull-downs) or performing exercises in unsafe ways (such as using a Smith machine for squats).
Consider, for example, using chains to increase the sweet spot of a range of motion. The most difficult position when doing power lifts (namely, squats, deadlifts, or bench presses) is usually at the very bottom of the range of motion. To correct that, if you are doing, say, barbell bench presses, you can hook a light chain to each side of the bar so that, as the bar moves upward, the light chain pulls upward on a heavy chain. If you do it correctly, you’ll increase the sweet spot of the movement so that the exercise is much more effective building strength throughout its whole range of motion.
Utilizing this principle may require you to become less egocentric, which is always good. Why? The poundages you are handling won’t look as impressive as they were before. So?
The fact is that using heavier weights is more dangerous than using lighter weights. This means that using this principle is not only more effective but also safer. Since you’ll be making the exercises more difficult, you must use lighter weights. Neat!
Similarly, using this principle will help you eliminate momentum. Though speed is good, using momentum (rather than strength) when training is dangerous.
I’d like you to train safely, efficiently, and effectively from now until your dotage. Wouldn’t you?