My career in the fitness industry spans nearly thirty years at this point. Often, my younger colleagues will ask me what changes I’ve noticed among gym-goers over that period of time.

 

The funny thing is, until recently, I hadn’t stepped foot in a commercial gym or health club in over ten years. Most of my gym visits have been to facilities that stress Olympic lifting or athletic-preparation.

 

 

Breaking Muscle Shop

Recently however, I’ve had the opportunity to view the goings-on at a few different traditional health clubs. My most surprising observation is how little things have changed over the years. For the most part, I observed the same mistakes I remember seeing almost thirty years earlier.

 

The following three mistakes represent the most common or significant blunders that you might be making yourself. If you’re not making these errors, congratulations! If you are, consider yourself fortunate. By implementing the changes I suggest below, you’re certain to see better results from your fitness program almost right away.

 

1. “If it hurts, it must be good for me.”

This assumption, made on the subconscious level by most people, is responsible for many poor decisions pertaining to exercise selection, technique, and loading. When I consider many of these choices, things like single joint exercises (e.g., tricep kickbacks), long-slow-distance (LSD) aerobic exercise, and forced reps come to mind.

 

Instead of assessing the value of a workout based on pain, I suggest that you use performance as an indicator instead. Measure everything you do on your next workout - how much weight you used, how many total reps you performed, how long it took, and so forth. Next time you repeat the same workout, try to improve one of these parameters while holding all the others constant.

 

For example, if you initially performed five sets of eight reps (forty total repetitions) with 115lb on barbell presses in 25 minutes, next time try to perform the same workout but in less time. Or with more weight. Or same weight but more reps. When your performance gradually increases workout by workout, so do your fitness levels and your appearance.

 

2. “Hey, I’m a guy! I know how to lift.”

Guys: Just because you were born a male doesn’t mean you automatically have certain skills. Lifting properly is in fact a skill. It's no different from learning jiu jitsu, tennis, or yoga.

 

The difference between lifting and most other physical disciplines however, is that the cost of technical errors can be far greater. If you habitually squat or deadlift with a flexed lumbar spine, you’re a herniated spinal disc just waiting to happen. Guys, put your ego aside and cultivate a beginner’s mind. After all, the moment you form a conclusion is the same moment you stop learning.

 

3. Knee-dominant lifting strategy

One of the most common technical errors among lifters who (to their credit) use squats, deadlifts, and related movements is that they tend to favor a knee-dominant strategy. This means that they use too much knee motion and not enough hip motion. True athletic power is harnessed through the hinge function of the posterior chain.

 

If you typically have knee issues when squatting, knee dominance is probably why. When you squat, initiate the movement by shifting your weight to your heels and sitting back, not by flexing the knees forward. Your knees will bend of course, but only after you flex at the hips.

 

This Week’s Training

I’m still on track for the most part, save a lingering knee issue (which continues to get better little by little). I did hit a nice pull this week, which is a relief after missing 450lb twice last week. In fact, I’ve lifted in excess of ninety percent of my target lifts for Worlds this week. Volume is up quite a bit (as it should be right now) as well.

 

That’s about all for this week. Hope your training is going well, and please leave any questions or comments you might have below!

 

Weekly Training Volume: 48,424 lbs (Last Week’s Volume: 34,305 lbs)

 

Significant Lifts:

  • Squat 365x1
  • Deadlift 475x1

 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bodyweight: 200.6 lbs

 

Volume: 10,720 lbs

 

Squat

 

Set 1: 45 lbs × 5

Set 2: 95 lbs × 5

Set 3: 135 lbs × 5

Set 4: 185 lbs × 3

Set 5: 225 lbs × 2

Set 6: 275 lbs × 2

Set 7: 295 lbs × 2

Set 8: 315 lbs × 1

Set 9: 335 lbs × 1

Set 10: 355 lbs × 1

Set 11: 365 lbs × 1

Set 12: 315 lbs × 2

 

Back Extension

 

Set 1: 50 lbs × 10

Set 2: 95 lbs × 10

Set 3: 135 lbs × 10

Set 4: 135 lbs × 10

 

Hanging Glute Contractions

 

Set 1: 10 lbs × 15

Set 2: 10 lbs × 15

Set 3: 50 lbs × 15

 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bodyweight: 201.2 lbs

 

Volume: 13,394 lbs

 

Bench Press

 

Set 1: 45 lbs × 5

Set 2: 95 lbs × 5

Set 3: 135 lbs × 5

Set 4: 185 lbs × 3

Set 5: 215 lbs × 1

Set 6: 235 lbs × 3

Set 7: 235 lbs × 3

Set 8: 235 lbs × 3

Set 9: 220 lbs × 3

Set 10: 220 lbs × 3

Set 11: 220 lbs × 3

Set 12: 205 lbs × 3

 

Chin Up

 

Set 1: +35 lbs × 4

Set 2: +35 lbs × 4

Set 3: +35 lbs × 4

Set 4: +35 lbs × 4

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

 

Set 1: 90 lbs × 6

Set 2: 90 lbs × 6

Set 3: 70 lbs × 8

Set 4: 70 lbs × 8

Set 5: 70 lbs × 8

 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bodyweight: 199.6 lbs

 

Volume: 13,175 lbs

 

1.5" Deficit Deadlift

 

Set 1: 135 lbs × 3

Set 2: 135 lbs × 3

Set 3: 135 lbs × 3

Set 4: 225 lbs × 3

Set 5: 275 lbs × 1

 

Deadlift

 

Set 1: 315 lbs × 1

Set 2: 365 lbs × 1

Set 3: 405 lbs × 1

Set 4: 475 lbs × 1

 

High-Bar Squat

 

Set 1: 45 lbs × 5

Set 2: 135 lbs × 5

Set 3: 225 lbs × 3

Set 4: 275 lbs × 3

 

Swings

 

Set 1: 125 lbs × 12

Set 2: 125 lbs × 12

 

Back Extension

 

Set 1: 135 lbs × 10

Set 2: 135 lbs × 10

Set 3: 135 lbs × 10 (Video of this complete workout with commentary below)

 

 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bodyweight: 201.4 lbs

 

Volume: 11,135 lbs

 

Bench Press

 

Set 1: 45 lbs × 5

Set 2: 95 lbs × 5

Set 3: 135 lbs × 5

Set 4: 185 lbs × 3

Set 5: 205 lbs × 2

Set 6: 225 lbs × 1

Set 7: 240 lbs × 1

Set 8: 240 lbs × 1

Set 9: 240 lbs × 1

Set 10: 225 lbs × 2

Set 11: 225 lbs × 2

Set 12: 225 lbs × 2

 

Bench Press (Dumbbell)

 

Set 1: 160 lbs × 10

Set 2: 160 lbs × 10

Set 3: 160 lbs × 10

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

 

Set 1: 100 lbs × 5

Set 2: 60 lbs × 10

Set 3: 60 lbs × 10

 

A big believer in practicing what he preaches, Charles Staley trains and competes just like his clients. Every Friday you can read what Charles has done this week in his workout sessions.

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