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There are many mistakes I see new trainees (and especially young guys wanting to build muscle) make. One of the most devastating ones for both the body and the mind is changing programs too fast and too often.
You know what I’m talking about. You’re thinking, I need to fill my medium size t-shirt with some solid muscle. So you go for heavy strength training, a la Starting Strength 5 x 5 style. Things go well, you’re getting stronger, and the weights increasing each workout. 3 weeks pass and the gains are getting smaller, till they stop completely. You feel it’s time to mix it up. Well, luckily for you, German Volume training article you just read on T-Nation will guarantee you’ll be the next Ronnie Coleman. So you switch and go for high volume. Two weeks later you feel really sore from the long workouts and are thinking, maybe my body is now used to high volume so I should change it again, right? You go for a radical change and drop the volume to 1-2 max effort sets as per Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty protocol. Things go well for another 2-3 weeks till… well, you know where I’m going.
Stop this madness!!! If you keep doing this, I guarantee you two things:
1) You will NOT get any bigger or stronger.
2) Your self-confidence will take consecutive dives with every program that yields no results.
One of the reasons you don’t see progress if you change your workouts too often, especially if you’re new to exercising, is that during the first few weeks of a strength training program the neural adaptation (efficiency of motor units contractions and rate at which they contract) counts for a majority of the strength gains. It’s not actual muscle growth. Basically, by the time your brain learns how to generate more force (by better muscular neural control), priming the “real” muscular hypertrophy to occur, you abandon your workout and start from the beginning. You waste all your hard work and time.
It’s kind of like making a pork roast. You prepare your veggies, rub the meat with spices, and put it in the oven. Then you open your recipe book and keep looking for another recipe to try. After 10 minutes of browsing you find one for an awesome cheese omelette. OK, now it’s time to check your roast. You pull it out of the oven looking forward to the delicious food, but it looks pretty much the same as you put it in. So you just say, “Ah screw it, it’s not working” and you take that whole thing and throw it in a garbage bin. You think the roast didn’t work, but you’re sure the cheese omelette will be frigging awesome so you start making it.
Sounds downright stupid?! That’s because it is! But 8 out of 10 guys in the gym are doing exactly the same thing in their training protocol.
Do me and yourself a huge favor (I hate to see you wasting precious time and efforts as I did so many times) and do these 3 things NOW:
1) STICK to your program for at least 8 to 12 weeks.
2) DO NOT READ or research any other training programs in the mean time. Rather, focus all your energy on your existing program.
3) GIVE IT ALL you’ve got. Every workout, strive for more reps or heavier weight. The principle of progressive overload is crucial for any program to work!
Do it! You’ll be glad you did. And in your free time (since you won’t be reading any training magazines or websites searching for new training programs), you can learn how to cook a decent pork roast!
write by Michelle Burns