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What If You Needed To Do LESS In The Gym To Have BETTER Results?

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What If You Needed To Do LESS In The Gym To Have BETTER Results?

I love my job as a coach and personal trainer, and I’ve seen many things in the gym since I’ve started out. One thing I’ve noticed is that some people, especially younger guys, are doing way too much in the gym. Workouts lasting 2 hours or more are not that uncommon. The problem: Your body has only finite resources, and yes, overtraining is real.

What if I told you that you could have better results by doing less in the gym?

Some of the greatest in bodybuilding (and many others, including myself) use one approach to build a muscular and lean body. Mike Mentzer did it, Arnold Schwarzenegger did it, and even Tim Ferriss did it: They all used whole body routines for huge size gains before starting with different body part splits (focusing on one or two body parts per workout).

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Now, before some of you get upset, I’m not recommending training the whole body to everybody, or all year round. This is for beginners and intermediate lifters (1 Rep Max: Squats; 1.6 x bodyweight, Bench Press; 1.2 x bodyweight, Deadlifts; 2 x bodyweight). If you fall into this category and you’re interested in making some serious gains, both strength and size-wise, then keep reading. (By serious I mean something along 10-20 pounds of muscle in 10 weeks).

Here are 3 reasons why you should give whole body routines a try.

1. Effectiveness

Do you want to know why Mentzer, Schwarzenegger, and Ferriss use whole body workouts? Because they work. If you’re familiar with the Pareto Principle, then you know what I mean with The 20%. Nothing beats whole body routines when it comes to strength and size gains, hands down. They focus on the most important thing: Compound movements. In most of them, you squat and bench twice, and deadlift once per week. You do the most effective exercises to build muscles, and you do them often. Kinda makes sense, doesn’t it?

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They’re great for working on weaknesses, too. I’m having some difficulties at the moment activating my hamstrings during squats. That’s why I’m doing a few sets of swiss ball leg-curls after squatting. Do you have a lagging body part? No problem: Pick up an exercise to hit that particular area, and do it at the beginning of your workouts. A smart routine includes 2-4 compound movements and 1-3 isolation exercises per training session. Do 2-5 sets of each exercise et voilà – you’ve got your perfect full body routine!

2. Technique

Because of the high frequency of the main lifts, whole body routines are great to improve your form. If you really want to get better at squatting or overhead pressing, squat and do overhead presses often! Ever wondered why martial artists are great at what they’re doing? It’s because they practice the same movement and over until they know it by heart. Sure it’s boring, but it works.

3. Timesaving

Why go to the gym 6 times a week if you can have the same, or even better results, with 3 weekly workouts? Full body workouts simply give you the most bang for your buck. You don’t need to do 100 rep curls or the 8 brand new Men’s Health exercises for toned abs. A 15-30 minute warm-up and 45-60 minute training makes a total of 90 minutes; 3 workouts x 90 minutes = 270 minutes = 4.5 hours per week. You hit the gym 3 times a week, and then you rest, eat, and grow. I love training, but I also enjoy many things outside the gym.

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An example of a solid training program

Monday and Friday

  • Squats 2 x 5-8
  • Incline Bench Press (10-20°) 2 x 5-8
  • Chin-Ups (supinated grip) 2 x 5-8
  • Triceps Pushdowns 2 x 8-10
  • Calve-Raises 2 x 8-10
  • Ab-Roll-Outs 2 x 8-10

Wednesday

  • Deadlifts 3 x 5-8
  • Dips 2 x 5-8
  • Overhead Press 2 x 5-8
  • Cable-Rows 2 x 5-8
  • Curls 2 x 8-10

2 x 5-8 means 2 controlled sets of 5-8 reps (working sets) after warm-up and warm-up sets. In other words, pick a weight you can do at least 5 reps with. If you can do more than 8 reps, increase weight by 2.5-5 pounds. Same weight for all working sets. Rest between 2 (for isolation movements) and 5 minutes (for compound movements).

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Split training has its time and place. However, most people will benefit more from whole body routines. Many of my clients tried this routine (or very similar ones) and the results were more than satisfying. Sometimes less is more.

Full body workouts might not be on vogue anymore, but people like Reg Park and Vince Geronda knew their value. They’re effective, great for improving form, and even save you time. What are you waiting for?

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Roberto Corbacio

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Last Updated on September 8, 2021

10 Fitness Excuses You Need to Stop Making Now

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10 Fitness Excuses You Need to Stop Making Now

“You can have results or excuses. Not both.” – Anonymous

Human beings tend to only ever do as much as they absolutely need to.

Motivational speakers call this innate trait laziness, biologists call it efficiency. Either way, the fact remains: we are evolutionary wired to minimize time and energy wherever possible.

And this is not necessarily a bad thing. If we weren’t wired this way, we probably wouldn’t have survived this long as a species.

Back in our caveman days, before supermarkets, calories were worth their weight in gold. For cavemen, trying to actively burn off calories would have spelled certain death.

In this light, our fitness excuses make total sense. Our reptilian brain comes up with believable sounding rationalizations to stop us from burning off our precious calories; to minimize time and energy.

Unfortunately, due to our present access to highly calorific foods, the fitness excuses that once ensured our survival, now send us to an early grave.

Below I’ve provided the 10 most common fitness excuses our reptilian minds trick us into believing and why, ultimately, they’re all nonsense.

1. I don’t have enough time.

This is probably the most common fitness excuse of them all.

First off, when you say you don’t have enough time, what you’re really saying is “I don’t have enough time for that”. 

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Do you really think that if you were to add up all the time you spend watching TV and surfing the web throughout the average week you couldn’t replace any of it with a workout?

A 30 minute workout takes up 2% of your day.

Don’t ask yourself how much time you’re going to waste by working out a few times a week. Ask yourself how much of your life you’re going to waste being unfit and overweight.

2. I’m way too tired to workout.

Your mind, when it comes to exercising, is like a spoiled child. If you give in to its demands without a fight, it will see weakness and prey on it often.

If you miss one planned session, you’re much more likely to miss the next. The biggest journey always starts with one step and the biggest failings always start with one step backwards.

You need to show your mind who’s boss. You won’t always have lots of energy when you go to the gym but that doesn’t matter. The only thing that counts is showing up and giving it a shot.

If you’re too tired to workout, change your sleeping habits, not your workout habits.

3. But exercise is so boring!

You don’t want to exercise because it’s boring?

So you find brushing your teeth, taking showers, styling your hair and getting dressed highly entertaining? No. We do these things because we have to. We accept them as part of life.

The people who never miss a workout are the ones who view it just like brushing their teeth. Complaining about it is just pointless. To be successful sometimes you’ve got to do things that aren’t as fun as watching your favorite TV show. That’s just life.

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If don’t enjoy your workouts, you don’t stop working out, you just workout differently. Try crossfit, martial arts, hiking, body building, powerlifting, running, or swimming. Try music. Try anything, but keep showing up.

4. I have no motivation to workout.

If you think you need motivation to train you’re already half beat.

What you really need is meta motivation: the motivation to train even when you’re not motivated. If you rely on your feelings to decide whether to workout or not, you never will. As you know, your feelings are designed to keep you caged up in your comfort pit.  Your feelings want you to be safe, not successful.

That said, there is a trick you can use to get yourself motivated to workout, and it’s  backed up with research. It’s called ‘the few minutes’ principle.

The basic idea is that procrastinators often put off doing certain things because the size of the task in front of them seems too overwhelming. By deciding to just go to the gym for a ‘few minutes’ you’ll often see the workout through to completion.

Are you motivated enough to train for two minutes? That’s all you need.

5. I have kids to look after.

One day your kids might have someone to look after too: you.

Don’t burden them with an ill parent when they have their own kids to look after. And don’t be the kind of parent who tells their kids exercise is good for them but doesn’t follow their own advice. Kids are smarter than that.

If you’re really struggling with managing your fitness and your kids, combine the two. Find a field and play frisbee for a few hours, go swimming, take a walk around the lake and feed some ducks. There are so many fun and cheap ways to exercise with your kids, the only limits are your imagination.

You kids should be your biggest reason to exercise, not your biggest excuse.

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6. I don’t have anyone to train with.

What you’re really saying with this fitness excuse is that you don’t have anyone to talk with while you train. If you’re training properly, you won’t need to talk.

Don’t get me wrong, having a training partner is great but here’s what you’ve got to understand: most people first meet their training partners at the gym. The reason you probably don’t have anyone to train with is because you don’t have many friends who train. Like attracts like.

By becoming someone who regularly trains, you’ll start attracting people into your life who also value health and fitness. You have to earn your training partners, they don’t come free.

7. I don’t feel very well.

After you get into the habit of overriding your fitness excuses and working out regularly, the thought of missing a workout starts to drive you insane. When I broke my jaw in two places the doctors told me I couldn’t lift heavy weights for three months. What did I do? I lifted light weights instead. Train smart, not hard.

At some point in our lives we’ve all pretended to be ill so we could skip a day of school. Some of the better actors among us probably blurred the lines in their mind between real symptoms and those imagined. It’s easy to exaggerate things when it fits our agenda.

If you’re really sick, I don’t recommend you train. But feeling a bit tired or achy – that’s no reason to skip a workout.

8. The gym is too expensive or far.

If you think you need a gym to achieve your fitness goals, you’ve been seriously misled.

The world is your fitness playground. Ever watched a training scene from a Rocky movie? He chases chickens, runs up steps, punches meat, and chops wood. Many people cite these scenes as their favorite.  Something about training dirty and raw resonates deep within us.

There are whole fitness subcultures dedicated to working out outdoors, and without formal equipment. Ever heard of Calisthenics, Tai Chi, Yoga or Parkour? Look them up.

If you want to put on muscle, try some typical strongman training like chopping wood, flipping tires, lifting barrels. Remember, if it’s important enough to you, you’ll find a way. Arnold Schwarzenegger made his own gym equipment out of chairs and sticks for the first year he trained. He claims he gained 25 pounds of muscle from doing this.

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9. I don’t know how to train properly.

If you’re reading this article, you’re obviously more than capable of figuring this out. The internet is brimming with routines and training tips. This site alone will give you more than you need. Read these 10 tips for better workouts, perfect for beginners.

However, it’s important that you don’t get too engulfed in the theory of ‘training properly’. Like most things in life, you learn best on the job. Ask people in the gym to show you how to use proper technique, then practice through action.

People love giving out tips. You might even get a training partner out of it.

10. I feel intimidated by the fit people there.

This is normal and everyone has this when they first start out. The environment is new, everyone there looks like they know what they’re doing. You feel like you’re in someone else’s home.

The number one reason you feel intimidated when you go to the gym is because you don’t go enough! If you started going regularly you’d get used to the place, the people and your fitness would improve. Everyone knows training improves your confidence. Just stick with it. It’s something you’ll laugh at a few months down the line.

Anyone can get in great shape. Anyone can become fit. But very few people ever do because they give in to their natural inclination to minimize time and effort.

Stop making excuses and just stick with it for two months. After that you’ll be finding excuses to workout even when you do have important stuff to get on with.

Featured photo credit: United Artists, Chartoff-Winkler Productions via Rocky (1976)

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