Posted by on Feb 10, 2014

BeginnersStrength Training
Slyvon Blanco is a Chicago-based personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is a coffee addict, tech enthusiast, and a self-proclaimed lifehacker. When he’s not training, he writes at where he often talks about unconventional tips on living an extraordinary life. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Fitocracy.

Fitness can be a bit overwhelming sometimes.

You have Coach Bob telling you to do one thing and then Coach Bill telling you another. One says you should always do the incline bench press on a 30° angle, while the other says to do it on 45°. Then out of nowhere, you have Coach Ben telling you that you shouldn’t need to do anything other than the flat barbell bench press.

See where I’m trying to get at?

When it comes to training, there’s really only a few things that you should know. The problem, though, is that there is so much information out there we end up suffering from analysis paralysis. We end up not making any forward progress because we’re too busy bogging ourselves down in the tiny details that don’t really matter.

But there is hope.

The training rules I have below are nothing new or revolutionary. In fact, you’re probably familiar with them already. The main idea is to show you the essentials of what it takes to get the most out of your workouts. These are basically the only things you need to know to get the results that you want from the weight room.

Implement these seven training rules, and you’ll get to your goals faster than you could have ever imagined.


Rule #1: Intensity, Intensity, Intensity

People always ask me what workout routine is best. My response? It doesn’t exist.

No matter how they look on paper, you can make ANY workout either a really good one or a really crappy one depending on the intensity that they are performed.

Some tips: lift heavy weights, take shorter rest periods, and strive to break new personal records every week. If you don’t look like you’re in any discomfort (keyword “discomfort”, not “pain”), then you’re not working out at all.

Rule #2: Form is Everything

No really, it’s everything.

In order to get the most out of your workouts, you must learn how to perform every exercise that you do with strict form. And strict form isn’t just all about moving the weights slowly. Body positioning, setup of equipment, mental preparation, and the flexing of working muscles (mind-muscle connection) are all things you need to pay attention on every set.

More importantly though, you want to keep your body healthy. The last thing you want happening is a rotator cuff tear or bulging disc.

Make every rep count. Lift weights with intensity, but do it with proper form.


Rule #3: Train Hard, Not Long

I never work out for more than an hour. Nor do any of my clients.

How can you do the same? Socialize less. Don’t work out in groups. Listen to music that helps you to focus on what you’re doing. Do more compound exercises and less isolation work. Do supersets.

The name of the game is effectiveness and efficiency.


Rule #4: You Need a Proper Training Program

The worst thing you can do is to go to the gym without a plan. Unfortunately, that’s how a lot of people approach their training.

You need a training program that incorporates proper progressive overload. If you’re seeking to improve your physique, you must not let your body adapt. You need to be constantly improving in some way every week to stimulate the muscle fibers to grow.

Taking a cookie-cutter workout routine from a magazine isn’t the way to do it. If y    ou have no idea where to start, take part in one of Fitocracy’s groups fitness programs or hire a trainer (just make sure they know what they’re doing).

biceps triceps biceps triceps


Rule #5: Ab Exercises Don’t Give Six-Packs

They’re done to strengthen the core because having a strong core carries over to everything else you do in the gym.

Doing ab exercises will NOT burn off fat from your stomach. If that was the case, everybody would be walking around with six-packs.

This sounds very cliche, but it can’t be any more true — abs are made in the kitchen. Your results will come from your diet.

If you have a proper training and nutrition regimen, then there’s no need to spend more than 15 minutes A WEEK on ab training. Your abs are already there, they’re just hidden.


Rule #6: Don’t Neglect the Basics 

Eight out of every ten exercises you do should be compound exercises. You know, the boring stuff that actually give you results.

Focus on doing exercises like pull-ups, push-ups, squats, deadlifts, rows, presses, etc. Stop trying to do circus acts just because they look cool. Dumbbell bicep curls on a bosu ball? Barbell squats on a stability ball? Seriously?

Also, save the bodybuilding splits that focus on isolation exercises for later. And when I say later I’m talking about 6-12 months down the road. Build a good foundation with your strength and physique first, then that’s when you can start partaking in the universal “Chest Mondays” and “Back Tuesdays”.


Rule #7: HIIT It

Steady-state cardio isn’t necessary.

Jogging on a treadmill is a great way to burn calories, but it’s not something that you have to do. Instead, try doing some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and/or metabolic resistance training which are far more effective than just steady-state cardio. You’ll be burning calories during the workout and even up to 24 hours AFTER.

If conditioning is not important to you (if you’re not a marathoner, triathlete, boxer, or MMA fighter) limit your cardio or cut it out completely. The demands on your metabolic system and joints are just far too high. Doing more cardio than you need to can be detrimental to the body’s recovery process.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that steady-state cardio is useless. It actually has great benefits for your body. If you like to run, great. Keep doing it. All I’m saying is that there is no need to run for hours and hours just to burn calories. When it comes to cardio, there are other options out there like HIIT if running is not your thing.

Focus on getting stronger and eating better. The fat will come off your body even without stepping on a treadmill.

cardio ain't nobody got time for that


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