Charles is here on a weekly basis to help you cut through the B.S. and get some real perspective regarding health and training. Please post feedback or questions to Charles directly in the comments below this article.
 
All my life I’ve been interested in the behavioral commonalities of people who succeed at their passions. In today’s post, I’ve chosen three such behaviors that all successful athletes have in common. These three points are non-negotiable. If you’re missing any one of them, you’re not as successful as you could be.
 

1. Prioritize Progression

Progression doesn’t need to happen exactly as planned every single workout, nor can it. But the overall trend must be constantly upward.
 
  • If your target is strength, you need to constantly put more weight on the bar.
  • If your objective is more muscle, you need to constantly add volume to your workouts. 
  • If you want more endurance, you’ve gotta put more miles in. 
  • If you’re after better mobility, you’ll need to put more time into drills that promote mobility.
 
As an example from my own training, I squatted 315x5 two weeks ago. This week, I attempted 335x5, but only managed 3 reps. Next week, I’ll take 335 again with the goal of getting 4 or more reps. 
 
Progression depends 100 percent on journaling your workouts. Few people can rely on their memory to keep track of their rep PRs on the numerous exercises they do. Digital training journals are superior to paper. If you use an iPhone, I recommend an app called Strong. Android users, try Simple Workout Log. These apps are very powerful, and track a number of important metrics including volume, reps, PRs, and so on. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating:
 
If you don’t journal your training, you’re not serious about your training. And that goes for nutrition too.

Progression requires consistent technique. Lifters commonly employ all sorts of tricks to fool themselves into thinking they’re making progress when they really aren’t. Cutting depth on the squat, lifting the butt off the bench on a bench press, and external assistance from a spotter who (of course) affirms, “That's all you bro!” are just a few examples of these tactics. Make sure your exercise technique is absolutely consistent, so that you’ll be comparing apples to apples in your efforts to progress the difficulty of your workouts.

 

Athlete on phone

He could be checking Instagram. But more likely, he's logging his workouts.

 

2. Solicit Social Support

Sure, there are a stoic few who can manage to maintain a consistent training schedule all on their own - the Jocko Willinks of the World who hit their basement gym every morning at 4:30am. These guys are certainly inspiring, but if your solo training efforts aren’t exactly on fire, maybe you’re not one of those selected few. I know I’m not. It’s funny, because I’m actually an introspective loner by nature, but when it comes to putting 400lb on my back, suddenly my lifting buddies become really important to me.
 
From a standard bell curve point of view, if you’ve got goals that mean a lot to you, you’re going to be in the minority. That by itself conspires to erode your determination, so find some like-minded people who’ll support you when you’re tired and stressed and tempted to stay home instead of train. This could mean a training partner (I’ve got three, just in case), a coach (in person or online), or perhaps social media friends who share your passion. Either way, no matter how strong your resolve might be, you’ll do even better with social support. If you don’t have it, get it. 
 

3. Manage Your Macros 

The most serious physique competitors often monitor and journal a whole host of nutrition metrics, including actual foods eaten, fiber, meal frequency, sodium, cholesterol, and so on and so forth. All I’m suggesting here is that you monitor and journal your macros. Like I suggested with your training, skip the stone-age paper and pencil nonsense and get yourself a powerful app. My favorite is Lose It. By journaling your nutrition, you’re attending to the one metric that determines perhaps 80-85 percent of your overall diet success, particularly when it comes to performance and body composition.
 
Improving body composition goes a long way toward improving your performance. Reducing your body fat percentage from 20 to 15 probably won’t add pounds to your max squat or deadlift, but it will help everything else, from pull ups to endurance-related activities to pretty much everything you’re likely to face in everyday life. 
 
And in the end, when you look good, you feel good. That, all by itself, will add fuel to your training efforts. 
 

This Week’s Training:

Volume: 54,235lb (Last Week: 71,086lb)
 
Significant Lifts:
  • Low Bar Squat: 335x3
  • Bench Press: 220x5
  • Military Press: 132x5
 
I ended up missing my Thursday pulling session due to a scheduling conflict this week, but as I don’t have any competitions looming, I won’t lose any sleep over it. My strength levels are holding up nicely and none of my joints are bitching at me, so all in all, everything is going well. I’ll likely drop down to the 1-3 rep range for a while in a week or two, and then return to high reps for a stretch after that. 
 
Thanks for checking in. If you have any thoughts on today’s post, I’d love to hear them!

Monday, February 8, 2016

 
Bodyweight: 199lb
Volume: 18,095lb
 
Goblet Squat
  • Set 1: 25lb× 10
  • Set 2: 60lb × 10
  • Set 3: 75lb × 10
 
Low Bar Squat
  • Set 1: 45lb × 5
  • Set 2: 45lb × 5
  • Set 3: 95lb × 5
  • Set 4: 95lb × 5
  • Set 5: 135lb × 5
  • Set 6: 185lb × 5
  • Set 7: 225lb × 5
  • Set 8: 275lb × 2
  • Set 9: 315lb × 1
  • Set 10: 335lb × 3 (Video Below)
  • Set 11: 275lb × 5
 

 

Toes To Bar
  • Set 1: 5 reps
  • Set 2: 5 reps
  • Set 3: 5 reps
  • Set 4: 5 reps
 
Standing Calf Raise
  • Set 1: 200lb × 8
  • Set 2: 200lb × 8
  • Set 3: 200lb × 8
  • Set 4: 200lb × 8
 
Deadlift
  • Set 1: 135lb × 5
  • Set 2: 185lb × 5
  • Set 3: 225lb × 5
 
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
 
Bodyweight: 199lb 
Volume: 16,700lb
 
Bench Press
  • Set 1: 45lb × 5
  • Set 2: 95lb × 5
  • Set 3: 135lb × 5
  • Set 4: 185lb × 5
  • Set 5: 210lb × 1
  • Set 6: 220lb × 5
  • Set 7: 205lb × 5
  • Set 8: 205lb × 5
 
Incline Dumbbell Press
  • Set 1: 100lb × 8
  • Set 2: 120lb × 8
  • Set 3: 140lb × 8
  • Set 4: 120lb × 8
 
Hammer Row
  • Set 1: 140lb × 8
  • Set 2: 140lb × 8
  • Set 3: 140lb × 8
  • Set 4: 140lb × 8
 
Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)
  • Set 1: 60lb × 8
 
Friday, February 12, 2016
 
Bodyweight: 199.6lb 
Volume: 19,440lb 
 
Military Press
  • Set 1: 45lb × 10
  • Set 2: 65lb × 8
  • Set 3: 88lb × 6
  • Set 4: 110lb × 5
  • Set 5: 132lb × 5
  • Set 6: 110lb × 5
  • Set 7: 110lb × 5
 
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
  • Set 1: 100lb × 10
  • Set 2: 140lb × 8
  • Set 3: 170lb × 8
  • Set 4: 170lb × 8
  • Set 5: 170lb × 8
 
Pull Up
  • Set 1: 5 reps
  • Set 2: 5 reps
  • Set 3: 5 reps
  • Set 4: 5 reps
 
Dual Cable Low Cable Curl
  • Set 1: 100lb × 8
  • Set 2: 100lb × 8
  • Set 3: 100lb × 8
  • Set 4: 100lb × 8
 
Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extension
  • Set 1: 70lb × 8
  • Set 2: 70lb × 8
  • Set 3: 70lb × 8
  • Set 4: 70lb × 8
  • Set 5: 70lb × 8
 
More Training Philosophies from Coach Staley:
 
Photo courtesy of Lev RadinShutterstock.
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