Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Getting into the gym, when you work 40+ hours a week, is difficult, I understand this. In terms of what motivates me? Well, now I've been doing it so long that to NOT do it actually feels wrong, feels weird and I feel lazy. But to you guys out there? I would first start with a specific plan, with a specific goal, in a specific time frame. Get a program going, with a diet and time by which you want to reach your goal (fat loss/ muscle gain.. whatever). Chances are if you're training with me, you have a program, so basically talk to me about what that entails, what you need to do, and also talk to me about your diet, as that's where the real results will come from.

Adam Bornstein tells of his motivation issues:
"I have a confession to make: I stopped working out.

Yep, you read it here. The layoff from this blog was no coincidence. The fitness editor stopped exercising. It wasn’t by choice, or plan, or preference. I can share excuses, sob stories, and a dramatic life-changing event that played a role in my absence. But none of it really matters, right? Excuses are lost moments that capture the past (emphasis added). I’m more interested in writing stories that embrace the future. Besides, my reasons are nothing more than a footnote in an endless list of men who have struggled to stay consistent to maintain their own health. For me, what started as a week break, turned into 3, and eventually spilled over into almost two months.
During that time I didn’t shrivel up and become a shell of my former self. My muscle didn’t turn from Dwight Howard into Fat Albert, and I didn’t go back to bench-pressing just the bar. (I swear, this doesn’t really happen) But I did experience failures in my own health: More stress, worse eating habits (as in, I didn’t eat much), sickness, and I had trouble sleeping. My excuses became reasons why I couldn’t work out; when in reality, hitting the gym was the one excuse I should have used to right the ship—or at least provide an anchor until the storm passed and calmer waters returned (emphasis added).

Maybe the break was a blessing in disguise. Most of my friends and colleagues consider me abnormal. It’s not that I’m not pressed for time like everyone else in the world; but going to the gym has never been an issue for me. Not when I travel, break bones, or have to start my day at 4:30 a.m. So a sudden stoppage of my lifetime hobby and full-time occupation provided a new outlook on how the other half lives.

What did I learn?

For one, skipping the gym doesn’t work for me. For the small investment I make (wake up early and spend an hour in the gym), I receive so much more in return. From attitude, to energy, and even my mindset—everything is better when I lift weights. I’m even a more efficient worker (emphasis added). Call it a coincidence, but my brain fires on all cylinders when I lift weights, and there’s even some research to back it up.
But more importantly, I discovered that getting back into the gym after a long break is harder than I thought. It can be humbling, frustrating, and more than anything, it’s hard building up the will to go exercise. Last week, I found myself battling the urge to crawl back into bed rather than head towards the door. I always knew that working out is tough. If it was easy, all of us would look and feel great. But now I have a better understanding of the psychological limitations that might keep your body on the couch, even if your heart wants to be in the gym.

I’m making a change—but don’t call it a comeback. (I’ve been here for years…sorry, couldn’t resist). It’s more like a rebirth. With the help of David Jack, a Men’s Health fitness advisor, I’m going to re-awaken the muscles in my body and start my renaissance. Could I do it on my own? Sure. But DJ is a bright mind with enough energy to jump start a car. Combined with a new experimental diet (details later), I hope to not only recapture what I once had, but become even better than before. After all, I now have a greater appreciation for how much of an accomplishment it actually is to hit the gym regularly.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll share my return to action. The workouts, the struggles, and what I’ll learn from it all. Along the way, feel free to follow the same workouts I’ll post here (they’re a little different) or even share your own workouts, frustrations, or successes. Whatever you choose, I only ask one thing in return: Take care of yourself, and do what it takes to find your way into the gym." (Bornstein 2010).
You need to decide what you want from your time in the gym. Unfocused random personal training sessions aren't going to get it done, aren't even going to make an impact, not in the long run. As I've mentioned previously you need a program with progressions, form and specific modalities, to keep you interested and to keep your body guessing. Running, walking, throwing some weights around occasionally, these things are fine, in the sense that you're moving, but they're not really getting you where you need to be.

Some tactics that you can use to make you get into the gym more often? Micromanagement! Making sure meals are prepared in advance, making sure alarms are set with enough time, to eat, prepare for work and fit in your personal training session/solo training session. Staying on top of your diet should keep you from getting sick, sniffles here and there are fine, but getting so sick you can't train? Shouldn't happen, ever! This comes back to the compilation post, being prepared will make sure that you're always at your allotted sessions, fully awake and ready.

Some tips from Charles Poloquin on successful lifters:
1. They value rest. Recently I had dinner with Ed Coan, a legendary world powerlifting champion who set the bar, literally, for his peers. How good was he? He became world powerlifting champion at age 21 in the 181-pound bodyweight division, winning by 138 pounds. In 1991, at 220, he totaled 2,402 (962 squat, 545 bench, 901 deadlift), and to this day his deadlift record has yet to be beat. When lifters faced Ed Coan, the only questions asked were what record he would break and who would take second.

While magazine interviews with such champions often focus on the athletes’ intensity level, the secret that Ed shared with me concerns the exact opposite. Coan says that one of the crucial parts of his training was plenty of rest, including a daily nap. He didn’t offer any peer-reviewed scientific papers to support his contention – although interesting theories are being presented about the value of a daily siesta; it was only common sense: “You don’t recover, you don’t grow!”

2. They do what works for them. I have seen many athletes of comparable Herculean strength develop their abilities with different approaches. Some would swear by short training cycles, and others liked lengthy cycles. For some, such as the Bulgarian weightlifters who often defeated the Big Red Machine from Russia, the way to their super strength was by pyramiding up and down their weights in a single workout, a method called wave loading. Others preferred a series of several sets at peak weights. Despite these radical training differences, there is one trait that all these athletes had in common: body intelligence.

Now, ordinarily, to do things in the same manner as the next guy and yet expect different results is just plain nuts. But lifters like these are “body smart”: If one training method doesn’t work, they try another, until they find the system that works best for them. In effect they learn, mostly through trial and error, the most effective ways to adhere to the principle of overload.

3. They all choose a mentor. Actually one of the bits of advice used by Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) disciples such as motivational speaker Anthony Robbins is to find someone who is successful and copy what they do. If you want to be a champion powerlifter, seek out the advice of a powerlifting guru such as Louie Simmons and find out how he trains his world record holders. If you want to be a top strongman, then seek out a top strongman coach such as Art McDermott. And if you can’t visit mentors in person and train under them, at least read their books!

Ed Coan’s mentor was Bill Seno, a former Mr. America in the ’60s who also competed in Olympic weightlifting, a cross-training activity rarely seen today. Seno was as strong as he looked and reportedly bench-pressed 573 pounds, quite an accomplishment in his era! Bill Kazmaier was a former world record holder in powerlifting who dominated the strongman scene for many years. His mentor was powerlifting legend Tony Fitton. Seno and Fitton were individuals who helped Coan and Kazmaier, like many other successful lifters, take the guesswork out of their training.

4. They constantly experiment. Once an athlete’s mentor led them to the right path, every single one of the athletes I’m talking about tried many things to get stronger. This natural curiosity and willingness to experiment and take risks are important concepts.

There’s no such thing as a single, perfect workout for everyone – every system has some effect, and some work better than others. This experimentation with variety is simply part of the training process. I find it frustrating to see so many coaches or organizations claiming that they have the perfect workout system; or to read research studies that compare one set-rep system to another, such as comparing 10x3 to 5x5, which leads readers to conclude that the system in question is the best. In fact, some of the single-set systems in such studies produced results not necessarily because they were superior, but because the athletes using them were overtrained and the lower volume allowed them to rest – a principle called Fatigue masks fitness.

5. They all are great stress managers. In case of unfortunate events or obstacles, successful athletes can see the opportunity in them, instead of the curse. They all have had setbacks, which they used to make themselves even stronger. One obvious case is Lance Armstrong and his victory over cancer and his multiple victories in the Tour de France; there are also many cases of weightlifters who have overcome obstacles.
Bob Bednarski was a US lifter who competed in the ’60s and ’70s, and Yuri Zakharevich from Russia lifted in the ’70s and ’80s. Near the peak of their careers both athletes broke world records, but then both suffered elbow dislocations that many experts thought would end their careers, especially considering the nature of surgery and sports medicine then compared to now. But both men recovered to break numerous world records. Bednarski clean and jerked 486.5 in the 1968 National Championships weighing 247 pounds, and the following year he jerked 525 pounds off the rack. Zakharevich snatched 463 pounds in the 1988 Olympic Games weighing 242 pounds, a lift only a few super heavyweight lifters since then have exceeded. In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, “What does not destroy me makes me stronger.” (reference: The Top Five Habits of Successful Lifters
A few common demoninators from the best athletes to help bring out the best in you. Charles Poloquin)

As far as training when you're sick, don't do it! Ever! I'm serious guys, not only do you expose me and the rest of the members to your illness but exercise is central nervous system fatiguing, which means what? When you're sick, you're body is working hard to get rid of it (I'm sure most of you know this, but the symptoms with the flu, are your body's reaction to fighting the illness),  and what, you ask, is doing all the work to get rid of the illness? Your central nervous system! If you come into the gym and run yourself down even more, I guarantee you, you will only get sicker. Better to take the time to recover (LOTS of fruit, vegetables and protein). How can you prevent yourself from getting sick in the first place? Fruit/vegetables and protein with every meal, when I hear you guys getting sick, I know you haven't been doing what I require, you know how I know? You ever see me sick? No Have I ever cancelled a session due to illness? No! Why? Cause I'm super human? Puh-lease! I'm like a lil old lady with a zimmer frame, the only difference is, I eat my fruit/vegetables and protein and get the sleep that I need. . . . That is another important factor, sleep, and recovery. As stated above, some of you are doing 40+ hour weeks, kids, mortgages this is all stress, oh and guess what part of the body deals with stress? The CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM! You're body is an integrated and fragile system, working harder than we all give it credit for all the time, I can't encourage recovery enough guys. Getting a nana nap where you can (great for fat loss), reading a book, having a quiet drink with friends . . anything that reduces stress.


Bornstein A., (2010). Funk Busting.  Retreieved 22/04/2011.

Poloquin C., The Top Five Habits of Successful Lifters. A few common demoninators from the best athletes to help bring out the best in you. Retrieved 22/04/2011.

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