Our 11 Infallible Truths of Training
We get a ton of training and nutrition questions in the gym on a daily basis. Most gyms worth their salt have managed to establish an environment where people take ownership of their own destiny and are eager to learn and ascertain how they can do a better job of reaching their goals.
So it got us thinking.
In all of the different individuals who ask us questions, are answers always unique? Are they always custom? Or, are there some principles; some truths, that no matter who you are can apply to your goals, and if followed religiously will achieve results for any individual?
We believe the answer falls more inline with yes, there are certain truths. No matter which method of training or which gym you might train out of, we believe there are 11 infallible truths that when followed will never fail to produce results in an individual.
1. Quality > Quantity
This one sits atop the list for a very good reason as it can apply to many different parts of your training, your diet, daily workouts and everything else covered in the realm of fitness.
Quality of reps over the amount you do.
Quality of training days versus thinking you have to train everyday to get results.
Quality of food over the amount you eat.
When training, it’s not the amount of ineffective reps you might stack up in the course of a workout like hoarded poker chips, it’s the denomination they carry.
What’s an ineffective rep? It’s one where you make a conscious decision to pick up a weight that you know is not going to truly challenge you because you want to move faster along the workout.
While a pile of $1 chips in your corner might look and feel like you’ve accomplished a lot when the clock beeps, the real winner is the person who walks away with a handful of $100 chips, not a backpack stuffed with $1s.
We’re not saying you need to be at max weight with bad technique, but you do need to be at a weight that challenges you.
In addition, quality of training frequency will always be more productive than quantity of frequency.
While some people do get great results training everyday, particularly beginners, the average person is going to be much better suited training three or four days a week with two to three days of rest. Three or four days a week with complete focus on those days will always trump six days of just blindly following the board with no real game plan.
2. Barbells Work
A lot of novice lifters think of Olympic and power lifts as that which should be reserved for massive Russians, and that they are only for those looking to get strong as hell. While it is true, Russians do love them and they will get you stronger, the reality is they are excellent for people looking to get stronger and leaner. When you perform both with regularity, not only does your body composition undergo a dramatic positive change, but you become a much more capable athlete in the process. Nothing works your body’s ability to apply raw strength like squats, deadlifts and presses (power lifts), and nothing translates that raw strength into speed and athleticism like cleans, jerks and snatches (Olympic lifts).
The common mistake for the novice athlete is to think that they don’t need these to get results because they “just want to tone up.”
This would be a fatal mistake. When you work more muscles in a particular movement, not only do you get stronger but you also prime your body to burn more fat. When you perform, say, a squat, you are working your quads, hamstrings, adductors and glutes primarily, but you are also engaging your lumbar, calves, shoulders, abdominals and upper back on each rep for a total of at least nine different groups of muscles (at least 30 individual muscles are worked in a squat).
This compound movement is unbelievably effective for simultaneous fat loss and strength gain.
3. Rest is the Same as Training.
Once you start to view rest as just as important to the training process as the actual training, you’ll start to see significantly better results with your goals. Your body must be allowed time to recover and rebuild. If it’s not rebuilding, then it’s not getting stronger. It’s just maintaining, and I’m quite certain your interest is not simply to be the most average mammer jammer in the playground.
The days of old, the days of going to the gym and isolating a single body part mixed in with days where you only do “cardio” have programmed people to think they need train every single day to get results because every single day used to represent a different group that, God forbid, can’t be missed.
Today’s training landscape is much different. We now do cleans and deadlifts, there are multiple power and Olympic lifts across each week, we sprint and jump at peak height and often work at just below maximal. Strenuous and grueling workouts are part of a norm that pushes you to challenge each day.
These days require rest and time off. Your body is an engine and just like a car it is capable of flooring it to full speed, throttling back and hitting cruise control or going for long distances at a time. It has gears. The more you ask it to floor it on consecutive days, the more burst and power it loses and the more it just wants to cruise and nestle all snuggled up in it’s banky in that cruise control gear of relaxation.
The worst thing you can do is read training articles about 24 year old professional athletes and competitors. Their genetics are much better and they have a higher stress tolerance.
You need rest.
4. So is Food. And Sleep.
Progress is started in the gym, improved in the kitchen and then achieved in bed. You will always achieve results through proper training alone, but to really take them to the next level and fully optimize your hard work it’s important you are refueling and getting your eight hours of Z’s. When you don’t get enough sleep and when your body is undernourished, your cortisol is elevated, putting your body into a state where it wants to hang onto fat.
Get your body clean, whole foods with enough carbohydrates for your level of activity and prioritize sleep. Don’t stress your macronutrients, simply get enough clean foods to support your function. Don’t skip meals. Don’t bomb ice cream. We all know how to eat healthy but we just love to find excuses not to. Don’t find the excuse. Getting five or six hours of shut eye and making up for it by blowing lines of coffee beans is not the same thing.
5. A Vertical Barbell is an Efficient Barbell
It does not matter which exercise you are performing, the bar will always move most efficiently and safely when it is moved in a completely vertical path and has minimal horizontal deviation. A 100% vertically moving barbell will allow you to lift more weight for more reps and will minimize the risk of injury. We’ve seen lifts go up twenty five pounds in a single session simply by correcting the path of the barbell for someone who is on the verge of “getting it”.
Just recently, former long time member Alex Vekich was in the gym for a single day session not having performed hang cleans under our guidance in six months since she moved. When she moved, she was cleaning 125#. Under Pritz’s coaching and watchful eye during her day session, the path was straightened out and she hang cleaned 140# at her weight of around 130 lbs.
A 15 lb. fix through simple mechanics.
Let’s look at the major movements and show you exactly what we mean.
On a squat and deadlift, a drifting barbell will create a chest that is parallel to the floor, lowering the weight you can lift and more importantly, hyper stressing the lumbar.
The back and front squat, with the vertically dotted line indicating correct and efficient bar path.